Happier trails are ahead for a hiker who was rescued thanks to the good eye of a train passenger.
A New Mexico woman, who had been missing for two days, was finally rescued after a train passenger saw her waving from her window. The woman had gone hiking along the Colorado Trail when she fell off a cliff while attempting to take pictures.
“She was obviously, you know, in considerable distress, you know, I guess probably approaching somewhat of a panic mode,” said Darren Whitten with Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad on the arrival of help. “She was very adamant that she did not want to be left alone again.”
The fall was about 90-feet down. She broke her leg and was unconscious for an unknown period of time, she told rescuers. It was also very cold and she was not dressed to battle the wilderness.
Despite her leg injury she was able to crawl near the river to flag down trains during the day. Without emergency supplies, staying warm was a challenge. The hiker said at night she would tuck herself into a nearby cliff face in an attempt to stay warm.
How cold was it? Emergency management spokeswoman DeAnne Gallego shared that there was a cold snap while she was trapped in the mountains. A cold snap is defined as a rapid fall in temperature, making a plummet to 20 degrees possible.
Talk about being at the right place at the right time! The hiker, who ended up being her rescuer, had been trying to flag trains to get help for days. Thankfully, riding in the next train passing the location were two trained medical and emergency professionals.
Married couple Nick and Kylah Breedon, an engineer and a fireman, were able to cross the river to examine the woman, assess her injuries, and bring emergency supplies and a radio for communication. There were 327 passengers on the train at the time and they all waited as the couple helped the injured hiker.
Because she had fallen in a tight spot, it was hard for a rescue helicopter to get close to her. A rescue crew stepped in and Kylah, who is also a paramedic, stayed with the woman.
The crew rigged a rope system to carry the hiker across the river on a backboard. They were then able to use a gurney to carry her to the helicopter. She was then taken to the hospital.
When the train passenger saw the woman waving for help, she immediately alerted the conductor. A 9-11 call would confirm that the family of the hiker had been looking for her. It is clear that the quick actions of train staff and personnel saved the hiker’s life.
“The immediate decisions that their train staff made in this particular situation really made the difference between life and death,” DeAnne said.
As a way to thank the passenger who saw the injured hiker, The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad compensated the train tickets for her and her husband. Some thank you’s are simply priceless!
Share this story to celebrate the safe return of the injured hiker to her family.
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