Dramatic video shows police officers engaged in the thrilling rescue of a hiker trapped under a boulder deep in the Washington state mountains, braving the gusty winds to get the 28-year-old to safety.
Ben Delahunty became trapped Monday, officials said, after traversing dangerous terrain in the Lake Viviane area of the Enchantments mountains, wandering several hours from the nearest trailhead.
Delahunty, a native of nearby Montana, was lucky enough to be with a friend for the ill-advised trip, who called the local police when he realized the boulder was too heavy even for the combined strength of the two men.
Officials said the rock was about the size of a refrigerator, hopelessly attached to Delahunty, whose wrist and both legs were both trapped under the massive weight of the boulder.
Police said Delahunty became trapped after standing on the boulder on the remote cliff, causing it to move under his weight.
Shortly after his friend got trapped, the unnamed partner called RiverCom for help at about 9:30 a.m.
It would be three more hours for rescuers to arrive, and many more hours for Delahunty to be finally freed.
Dramatic video shows police officers involved in the thrilling rescue of a hiker trapped under a boulder deep in Washington state’s Enchantment Mountains, braving high winds to bring the man, 28-year-old Ben Delahunty, to safety
Delahunty got stuck after standing on the boulder.
Chelan County Emergency Management Sgt. Jason Reinfeld told The Seattle Times that the hiker initially “felt very stable” on the boulder, but then suddenly “the rock started to slide and it landed under it.”
“They were almost on a cliff and the boulder was also held in place by a tree,” Reinfeld added of the dangers of the rescue.
“According to him he was on the boulder, it felt really stable — he’s not a heavy person,” Reinfeld added. ‘LHe suddenly started to slide and he landed underneath.
Heartbreaking feed released by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office showed the dangers law enforcement faced during the rescue, protecting Delahunty from high-speed winds before flying away safely — more than eight hours after he became trapped
When they arrived at the scene around 12:20 p.m., officers from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office quickly realized a rescue would be even more difficult than expected, as paramedics were unable to reach the area where Delahunty was trapped without safety ropes.
Nearly five hours would pass before first responders could free Delahunty and remove the rock with an array of rescue equipment. However, the rescue was far from over.
While he was freed from his steep confinement, Delahunty’s legs were badly injured by the crushing weight of the rock, rendering him unable to walk, officials said.
Rescuers then had to figure out how to get the injured hiker safely off the deserted mountainside without using his legs.
When they arrived at the scene around 12:20 p.m., officers from the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office quickly realized that a rescue would be even more difficult than expected, as paramedics were unable to reach the area where Delahunty was trapped without safety ropes.
Nearly three hours would pass before first responders reached Delahunty, after which they were able to remove the rock and free the hiker. But the rescue was far from over
Freed from his steep confinement, Delahunty’s legs were badly injured by the crushing weight of the rock, rendering him unable to walk, officials said. Rescuers then had to transport him safely from the deserted mountainside
Officials said Delahunty became trapped after standing on the boulder on the remote cliff, causing him to move under his weight
What’s more, by the time he was freed, the winds had picked up so much that the first attempt to lift him from his position by helicopter, as well as an attempt to drive him to a nearby landing area, were unsuccessful.
It would be another two hours, around 4:45 p.m., before there was enough weather break for officials to attempt another lifting operation – this time with success.
Heartbreaking footage released by the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office shows the dangers lawyers faced during the rescue before Delahunty was safely transported to Central Washington Hospital.
It shows the rescuers holding Delahunty in place as the group is pelted by deafening winds, while the pulsing blades of a helicopter can be heard overhead.
Footage shows rescuers holding Delahunty in place as the group is pelted by deafening winds, while a helicopter is seen waiting to safely transport the hiker away.
Their efforts wouldn’t be in vain, though, as Delahunty was finally flown out at about 4:45 p.m. — more than eight hours after he got trapped.
Their efforts would not be in vain, however, as Delahunty was finally flown out at about 4:45 p.m. — more than eight hours after he became trapped.
Video of the operation shows rescue workers being brutally battered by the wind. He was lifted into the air by the plane.
Officials said Delahunty suffered “significant injuries” to his leg, but is expected to recover. The extent of his injuries has not been disclosed.
After Delahunty was rescued, on-site rescuers hiked back to the isolated trailhead, arriving at approximately 11 p.m., to disable the rescue equipment used in the complex rescue.
Due to the weight of the tools and the distance from any passable path, the equipment — which was used to pry Delahunty out of the rock — was left nearby overnight and picked up by helicopter on Tuesday.
The incident happened while Delahunty and his friend were exploring the mountains near Lake Viviane
Several local agencies participated in the intricate operation, including members of Cascade Ambulance, Chelan County Mountain Rescue, Wenatchee Valley Fire Department, Snohomish County Helicopter Rescue Team and Chelan County Emergency Management.
A firefighters union in Wenatchee Valley posted the nail-biting video of the rescue.
The Chelan County Fire District 3 also provided additional equipment to free the walker.
“I’ve been involved in search and rescue for 15 years and I’ve never seen a rescue as complicated as this one,” Reinfeld told the Times of the dangers of the successful operation.
“Having something heavy to trap someone is dangerous if you can drive there with equipment, but if you have to do it remotely, it just gets more complicated and dangerous.”
Wenatchee Valley Fire Chief Brian Brett added that this was the first time his department had been forced to use rescue equipment for a mountain rescue.
“This was definitely something that was made into a movie,” the fire chief said.
Delahunty is still in hospital, but police say he is expected to recover.
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