CHP helicopter rescues lost hiker in Napa

Times-Herald staff report/ Posted: 07/04/2012 01:01:45 AM PDT
California Highway Patrol officers used a helicopter Tuesday to locate and rescue a lost and injured hiker. The 53-year-old man from Lake County started hiking at about 5 p.m. Monday near the Napa and Lake county lines, a CHP officer said. At about 9 p.m., he realized he was lost and did not have cellphone reception. The man was trying to head to a creek when he slipped and fell down an embankment into a ravine, the CHP officer said. The Napa County Fire Department began looking for the hiker, eventually calling in a CHP helicopter for help, the CHP officer said.

The helicopter crew began searching their the county line, east of Mt. St. Helena. Unable to find the hiker in the thick forest, the helicopter crew landed on a nearby pinnacle and shut the helicopter down, according to a statement released by CHP on Tuesday.

The crew, pilot Officer James Andrew and flight Officer Shaun Bouyea, a paramedic, left the helicopter and began shouting for the man.

They got a near immediate response back about half a mile away, according to the statement. The two officers then returned to the helicopter because of the rough terrain, narrowing their area of search.

Using night vision goggles, they were able to locate the hiker, who was using his cellphone light to signal them, according to the statement. The helicopter crew notified Cal Fire and Napa Fire of the man’s coordinates.

The search and rescue teams hiked to the man and stayed with him through the night when it became apparent that the injured man could not hike back up the ravine, the CHP officer said.

The helicopter was also unable to lift the man up in the dark, returning at dawn to complete the rescue. The hiker was airlifted to Queen of the Valley Medical Center.

The hiker complained of leg and back pain, but will be OK, the CHP officer said.

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