Trooper 5 performs an airborne hoist. (Stock photo, care of Maryland State Police)
Around 10 p.m. on June 21, West Virginia's Jefferson County Fire and Rescue requested assistance from the Maryland State Police to help rafters stranded on rocks in the Shenandoah River near Harpers Ferry, W.Va.
Medevac Trooper 3, based at Frederick, Md., arrived first at the scene. After assessing the situation, the crew requested assistance from Medevac Trooper 5 based at the Greater Cumberland Regional Airport.
Using an on-board spotlight, Trooper 3 located several people clinging to rocks just a foot above the river’s raging waters. Using a rescue basket, the crew hoisted five rafters, including children, on board the helicopter. The rescued rafters were transported to awaiting fire and emergency personnel at an elementary school in Harpers Ferry.
While Trooper 3 was at the elementary school, Trooper 5 arrived on scene carrying two members of the Cumberland Fire Department’s HEAT team. Trained in aerial rescue operations, the team hoisted three more people from the river. Trooper 5 then returned to the river and hoisted the remaining four people to safety.
The dark night made for hazardous conditions with mountainous terrain on one side of the river and numerous trees along the river and growing from rock islands.
The 12 people had been rafting and tubing. They ranged in ages from 4 to 41, and all are expected to fully recover.