LINVILLE — A hiker was released from the hospital with minor injuries after being rescued from MacRae Peak via Black Hawk helicopter on Sunday, May 26.
According to Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation spokesman Frank Ruggiero, the helicopter was needed to get the hiker from the MacRae Peak area on the N.C. State Park side of Grandfather Mountain to MacRae Meadows, where Avery EMS rushed the patient to Cannon Memorial Hospital in Linville.
“Fortunately, the injury was minor, and the hiker was released later that night,” Ruggiero said. “Grandfather Mountain would like to thank its emergency response team, N.C. State Parks, Linville Central Rescue Squad, N.C. Emergency Management, the N.C. Helicopter and Aquatic Rescue Team, Linville Fire & Rescue and Avery EMS for the joint effort.”
Avery County Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Buchanan said the man suffered an ankle injury on top of the peak, which is accessed by a series of ladders, and had to be airlifted out via helicopter by the North Carolina Helo-Aquatic Search and Rescue Team. Buchanan said upon arriving, first responders assessed the situation and decided using NCHART was warranted.
According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, “NCHART is a highly specialized team consisting of N.C. National Guard and N.C. State Highway Patrol aircraft and aircrews matched with N.C. Emergency Management and local first responders that form a mission ready package for helicopter-based rescues.”
Buchanan said a carryout rescue in this case would have taken about seven hours, as opposed to the 30 minutes the rescue took with the NCHART craft, and would have placed the patient and rescue workers at greater risk by setting up rigging stations and having to descend the rock faces with the patient.
MacRae Peak is one of several mountaintops of the Grandfather Mountain area, which consists of the Grandfather Mountain State Park and the privately owned attraction. The privately owned attraction consists of the Mile High Swinging Bridge, Nature Museum, Wildlife Habitats and various programs and educational events.
Carl Blankenship contributed reporting to this story.