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SOUTH DEERFIELD, Massachusetts (WWLP) — It was a race against time to find and retrieve a hiker who fell from a cliff on Mount Sugarloaf in South Deerfield, Massachusetts Saturday afternoon.
“I witnessed him coming down the mountain and I could hear him hitting the trees,” said David Behilo.
Behilo lives right at the base of Mount Sugarloaf.
He was looking at birds through his binoculars late Saturday afternoon, when he saw something go wrong with a group of hikers on the ledge.
“He started sliding. And then he slid about 30 feet, and then went off the cliff.” Behilo immediately called 911; he knew this hiker needed a lot of help. “He wasn’t moving, and I could see him. And they were yelling for him. There was no way they were going to climb over the ledge and get to him.”
A spontaneous and coordinated rescue effort came together to get that hiker off the hill.
It was no easy task. South Deerfield Firefighters, Deerfield police, fire, and EMS responders called in a regional technical rescue team.
Carrying ropes and a rescue basket, they made their way through almost a half mile of thick brush; it was more a climb than a hike.
“The terrain to get to the patient itself was near vertical. But it was also soft footing because of all the recent rain and snow. So they had the task of hiking up to the patient, and once they were with the patient, they had the task of packaging the patient and then lowering the patient down slowly,” Greenfield Fire Chief Michael Winn told 22News.
The injured hiker, a man in his twenties, was conscious and talking to his rescuers while they secured him in the rescue basket.
They carried him carefully down the mountainside through the thick brush, and put him in an ambulance.
A difficult rescue that succeeded because of so many people working together so well.