SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Injured hiker rescued off mountainside


January 07, 2011
Friday PM

(SitNews) - Keith Hutchins was safely rescued by an MH-60 Jayhawk and transfered to emergency medical service personnel in Juneau after he was hoisted off Ripinski Mountain near Haines Thursday.

jpg Injured hiker rescued off mountainside

Coast Guardsmen present a safety brief to personnel from Juneau Mountain Rescue prior to departing the Army National Guard Hangar to help rescue Keith Hutchins who contacted Alaska State Troopers after he was injured while hiking above 1,600 feet on Ripinski Mountain near Haines Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn

Forty year old Hutchins reported by cell phone on Wednesday around 2 pm that he had been solo hiking on Mt. Ripinsky when he got disoriented on his descent and fell off a cliff into a steep ravine. He said the fall caused him to suffer severe pain, a back injury, and he could not move his legs. Hutchins was laying in snow beneath a tree and not visible from above. Hutchins was hiking above 1,600 feet on the mountain.

The Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers, United States Coast Guard, Alaska Mountain Guides, Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures, Haines SAR Team, Skagway SAR Team, and Juneau Mountain Rescue responded to assist in the search.

Hutchins' cellular phone allowed searchers to obtain his exact location on the face of a cliff which would require technical equipment and training to access. However, a weak phone battery complicated the communication with Hutchins.

jpg injured hiker rescued

An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk rescue helicopter crew medevaced Keith Hutchins at 11 a.m. and transported him to awaiting emergency medical personnel at the Juneau International Airport who transferred him to Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau at 12:50 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 6, 2011.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Walter Shinn

A 4-member team responded to the base of the cliff on Mt. Ripinsky Wednesday afternoon where they established voice contact with Hutchins who was a few hundred feet away. The rescue team remained on the mountain overnight Wednesday maintaining contact with Hutchins but could not close the distance to him due to hazardous terrain.

At approximately 11 am Thursday Hutchins was hoisted from the mountain by a United States Coast Guard helicopter and transported to Juneau for medical treatment of a possible spinal injury.


Sources of News:

Alaska State Troopers

United States Coast Guard

E-mail your news & photos to

Publish A Letter in SitNews         Read Letters/Opinions

Contact the Editor

SitNews ©2010
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska