A Hiker Was Trapped in the Wilderness with a Broken Leg. She Was Saved by a Woman on a Train.
The hiker had broken her leg and been stuck in the wilderness overnight when she crawled to a spot in view of the train.
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A hiker who spent two days alone in the southern Colorado wilderness after breaking her leg was rescued after a passenger on a tourist train spotted her.
The hiker, a New Mexico resident whose name authorities have not released, was on a dayhike down the Colorado Trail near Deer Park when she stepped off-trail toward the Animas River and fell, sustaining a concussion and breaking her leg. Eventually, she was able to crawl to a spot along a set of train tracks for the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG) that passes by the riverbank.
On the first Silverton-bound train on Monday, October 10, a passenger noticed the distressed hiker waving frantically. D&SNG Superintendent Darren Whitten told the Durango Herald that the hiker was in a place that was only visible from a very limited, specific angle. The passenger alerted the train staff, who triggered a response.
Delton Henry was working in the inspection motor car behind the train, and he stopped to help the hiker. Two D&SNG workers who were also medical professionals in Colorado’s La Plata County crossed the chest-deep river to assess her injuries and stay with her until a team from Silverton Medical Rescue arrived. A call to San Juan County Search and Rescue revealed that she had been overdue, and her parents had been looking for her.
Rescuing the stricken hiker wouldn’t be easy. The team tried to access her via the railroad, but her condition was too extreme, and they decided that getting to her would be too challenging. Instead, a CareFlight helicopter flew in the team, which packaged the hiker on a backboard and sent her on a rope system across the Animas River. A waiting helicopter then carried her from Deer Park to Montrose Hospital.
Speaking to the Herald, DeAnne Gallegos, San Juan County’s emergency management spokesperson, said that it was “an amazing feat” that the hiker had managed to survive a night out in the cold, and that she was able to reach the tracks with her injuries. The hiker’s leg was “visibly offset,” she was dehydrated, and she had no emergency gear or clothes meant to keep her warm overnight.
The D&SNG has a small diesel train stationed in Silverton reserved for emergencies, which transported the SAR crew out of the area after the hiker was rescued, according to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management.