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Hiker airlifted off Red Hill

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” A 55-year-old man was airlifted from the Red Hill Recreation Area north of Carbondale Wednesday evening after experiencing medical problems while hiking.

According to Carbondale Fire District officials, rescue personnel got the initial call at 3:07 p. for a hiker needing medical attention near Mushroom Rock, a popular destination overlooking Carbondale and the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Crystal rivers.

Initial reports indicated the man was experiencing chest pain. Carbondale Fire Chief Ron Leach could not disclose the specific condition, but said it was “a serious medical condition.”

After assessing his condition, rescue workers were able to transport the man down a trail to a nearby sage meadow and called for St. Mary’s Hospital CareFlight. He was airlifted from the area around 5:30 p.m. and taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.

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The victim’s name was not released, but he was a valley resident, incident commander Jake Spaulding said. There was no information on the man’s condition as of late Wednesday evening.

“It was really a high risk situation with the helicopter, given the wind and nearby powerlines,” Leach said. “I’m really proud of what Jake and these guys did today. They went into a real back country situation and gave this guy great care, and made the right decision to call the helicopter.”

Nearby resident Alison Osius was hiking in the area when she came across the rescue operation in progress.

“It was really impressive to see the helicopter land, with the wind gusting as much as it was,” she said. “The pilot just put the nose into wind and held it steady. It looked like they had things well under control.”

Spaulding said it was up to the helicopter crew whether to attempt the rescue.

“They took weather readings and had a guy staged at the heli spot relaying information to the pilot,” he said. “To land on that hill in the wind is pretty risky.”


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