Basalt rescuers aid injured mule rider
PITKIN COUNTY ” A 61-year-old woman was evacuated by helicopter from the upper Fryingpan Valley Tuesday after she suffered a serious head injury while driving cattle, according to authorities.
The woman was on an extremely rough road on a hillside directly north of Norrie Colony, about 27 miles east-southeast of Basalt and 3 miles southeast of Thomasville, according to Jerry Peetz, Basalt assistant fire chief.
“They were running cattle up there,” Peetz said. “She was riding a mule. It spooked, causing her to fall off.”
The woman apparently hit her head on a rock and briefly lost consciousness. A female that was riding with her helped restore the victim’s breathing, Peetz said.
The victim’s name wasn’t released by Basalt Fire Rescue because of confidentiality rules. Her name was unavailable from the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, which assisted the rescue.
Basalt rescuers were paged to the accident at 1:15 p.m. Peetz credited Thomasville volunteers Ken Jammaron and Richard Neal for doing a remarkable job negotiating the rough road and reaching the scene within 30 minutes. They were able to get the specially equipped four-wheel-drive ambulance up an old road cut for power line placement, he said.
A crew from Basalt also responded to the scene and paramedic Dan Goddard determined the woman’s injuries were severe enough to warrant calling in a helicopter to evacuate her.
“It’s been reported to us as a serious head injury,” said Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office patrol supervisor Joe Bauer said during the rescue operation.
There was no place for a helicopter to land near the accident because of the power line, so the victim was secured to a six-wheeled, all-terrain vehicle that is in Basalt Fire Rescue’s fleet, Peetz said. She was driven to a meadow about one-half mile away that could accommodate the chopper.
The Flight for Life helicopter, called Lifeguard II, reached the scene in 20 minutes after it was dispatched from Summit County. Peetz said the timing was perfect ” the victim arrived at the landing zone at same time as the helicopter.
The victim was taken to a Denver hospital. Her condition was unknown Tuesday evening. Peetz said he didn’t have time to ascertain during the rescue if the woman was a local resident.
Eight members of the Basalt fire department responded. They were assisted by a Pitkin County deputy sheriff and two Colorado Division of Wildlife officers who happened to be working in the area.
“It was probably one of the hardest backcountry rescues I’ve seen because of the terrain, not knowing the area and not knowing the extent of the injuries. It was a challenging one,” Peetz said.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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