Rescue workers unload an injured hiker from a helicopter Sunday evening. The crew picked the woman up at the top of Tunk Mountain after she broke her ankle on the trail. PHOTO BY WILLIAM B. BUCHANAN

Injured woman rescued from Tunk Mountain

FRANKLIN — The Maine Forest Service assisted the Maine Warden Service in a rescue operation Sunday evening at Tunk Mountain near Township 10.

A woman with a broken ankle was flown by helicopter off the mountain, according to Game Warden Eric Rudolph.

Game wardens received a call around 3:30 p.m., Rudolph said, prompting an initial response with a crew on the trail.

“It was gonna be difficult,” Rudolph said. “With any kind of trail rescue like that, you’re going to have to carry them 50 miles.”

But Sgt. Ralph Hosford, the supervising game warden, realized the summit of the mountain was open enough to land a helicopter, so he called the Maine Forest Service for assistance.

“This mountain’s very bald on top,” Rudolph said.

Chief Ranger Pilot John Crowley said his department got a call between 4 and 4:30 p.m. A pilot and crew chief picked up a crew at a baseball field in Franklin then flew to the summit. The woman was about a quarter of a mile from the summit of the mountain when the rescue crew arrived.

The team consisted of two game wardens, two volunteer firemen, a paramedic who works with Old Town Fire Department and the pilot. A Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue officer assisted by hiking up the mountain to meet the crew, and then hiking back down with two of the victim’s family members.

Crowley said a standard response for a situation like this would be the short haul system, in which a victim is carried underneath the helicopter a short distance. However, because the mountain was clear enough, the crew was able to carry the woman back to the helicopter and load her straight in. The paramedic stabilized the patient before she was brought down from the mountain.

“She was treated for injuries to her leg and then released,” Rudolph said.

More people are hiking in that part of the state, he said, but accidents like this are rare and more accidents occur in Acadia National Park and on the Appalachian Trail.

People often get hurt and need rescue late in the day, Crowley said, meaning crews have to race against the loss of light as night falls when they carry out operations. The night before Sunday’s rescue, Crowley dispatched a team to Katahdin that was “fighting dark the whole way down.”

“People get hurt at the end of the day; they always get hurt on the way down,” he said.

The pilot for the crew was Ranger Pilot Lincoln Mazzei and the crew chief for the operation was Joe Mints.

Jack Dodson has worked for The Ellsworth American since mid-2017, and covers eastern Hancock and western Washington counties. He grew up in the Mid-coast region before living in New York City for five years, where he freelanced in documentary filmmaking and journalism. He is particularly interested in criminal justice, environment and immigration reporting.

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