NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – A Search and Rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island hoisted a 20-year-old man late Saturday, evening on Nov. 15, 2014 out of a ravine at the base of Mount Shuksan after falling over 100 feet.
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s contacted the air station after the victim’s hiking partner called for help where they were climbing at the 3,700 feet elevation. According to Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Wayne Papalski, he rappelled from the Navy helicopter into a gully to reach the injured man in freezing conditions.
“I had to climb and maneuver another 100 yards and go through waist deep icy glacier water to reach him,” said Papalski.
The injured climber was put in a rescue vest and hoisted aboard and flown to Saint Joseph Medical Center, Bellingham.
NAS Whidbey Island SAR has launched on 33 search and rescue missions and nine medical evacuations this year, resulting in 46 lives saved.
The Navy SAR unit is specifically based here for search and rescue missions for the EA-18G aircraft as well as other squadrons and personnel assigned to the installation. The base also has an agreement to assist Washington State with medical evacuations and search and rescue activities.