Injured hiker rescued from Elephanthead

Justin Post — Enterprise Staff Writer
Monday, September 14, 2020
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Photo courtesy of the Park County Sheriff’s Office

The Life Flight helicopter is pictured during a Saturday search and rescue mission to recover a woman injured while hiking Saturday on Elephanthead Mountain in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

A Bozeman hiker was life-flighted off Elephanthead Mountain in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness after suffering injuries when a boulder gave way and struck her.

The woman, who was hiking with a friend from Bozeman, was climbing when a boulder knocked her down, said Park County Sheriff Brad Bichler.

The Park County Sheriff’s Office was notified about the incident at 1:06 p.m. Saturday and immediately activated a Search and Rescue, or SAR, team to stage at its facility just east of Livingston, the sheriff said.

A Life Flight helicopter located the injured woman but was not immediately able to find a safe landing area. The helicopter refuelled before picking up Capt. Josh Pierce, a firefighter and paramedic with Livingston Fire & Rescue, and flew him up the mountain to the area of the patient, Bichler said.

The helicopter returned to the SAR facility and picked up a second SAR team member, firefighter/paramedic Abel Rios, and returned to the landing site at the scene.

The two SAR members and medics helped the injured woman walk roughly a mile to the landing zone, where she was turned over to the Life Flight crew, Bichler said.

The woman, who was not identified, suffered broken facial bones, bruising, lacerations and hand injuries, Bichler said. She remained in stable condition throughout the mission, he said.

Capt. Pierce said the mission was unique as the Life Flight helicopter is not typically utilized to participate in mountaintop rescue operations. Pierce, however, said other medical helicopters that respond to those type of incidents were unavailable to respond on Saturday.

The Life Flight helicopter also does not traditionally carry SAR members to incident scenes, but coordinated with the other agencies involved in the mission to make the patient recovery mission possible.

“I was impressed with the coordination between Livingston Fire, Life Flight and Park County Search and Rescue in the absence of available resources,” Pierce said.

The patient’s friend, who was uninjured, hiked out to the trailhead accompanied by Pierce and Rios of the SAR team.