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Seriously Injured Researcher Rescued From Crevasse

Badlands National Park

National Park News

On the afternoon of July 31st, rangers were dispatched to investigate a report from a 911 caller who said that his partner had fallen into a hole and was seriously injured. Before his cell phone died, the caller was able to report that they were in the Sage Creek Basin and provided GPS coordinates. Park and local emergency personnel responded, but all attempts to locate the reporting party failed and the GPS coordinates where found to be grossly in error. Ranger Teri Stoia finally found the caller and began hiking with him into the badland formations to locate his companion. Search efforts were handicapped by poor radio communications, the rugged terrain, and the reporting party’s difficulty in retracing his steps. Stoia finally located the injured man and discovered that he had fallen 50 feet from a ridge line into a steep, narrow crevasse. He complained of neck and back pain and was found to likely be suffering a broken arm, broken shoulder and multiple broken ribs. Employees from the park, the park’s technical rescue team, Pennington County Search and Rescue, Wall ambulance and fire, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and the Rapid City Regional Life Flight Helicopter responded. The man was stabilized and extricated from the crevasse. Due to the severity of his injuries and the complicated multi-pitch lowering operation which would have to be utilized to reach the life flight helicopter, it was decided to employ a South Dakota Army National Guard rescue helicopter to lift him off the formations and transport him to the valley floor for transfer to the life flight helicopter. During the investigation, it was learned that the two men were researchers working in the park, studying fossil beds and rock formations. While making their way over the main badland wall, a sudden gust of wind caused one of the researchers to lose his balance and fall off the ridge and into the crevasse below. More than 30 people participated in the successful rescue.


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