BASS LAKE — Road 274 along the northwest end of Bass Lake was closed for over a hour this afternoon as firefighters and Madera County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue (MADSAR) worked to save a fallen hiker.
At about 5 p.m. reports came in that a 92-year-old Bass Lake man was on a very steep trail just south of the Willow Creek bridge when he apparently lost his footing and plunged about 150 feet to the rocks below along the fast moving Willow Creek.
Several young men in the area came to his aid, calling for help and staying with the man until help arrived, even assisting as the injured man was readied to be hoisted up to the roadway where Sierra Ambulance personnel were standing by to render medical aid. According to the good Samaritans, the fall victim, who is a Bass Lake native named George, had fallen at about noon, and was caught in thick brush beside the creek.
The Forest Service and CHP responded to the scene to assist with traffic control, and Cal Fire Engines 4294 and 4264, along with Madera County Fire Department Squad 18, provided the manpower required for the high-angle hoist. Many of the MADSAR team members arrived in their own vehicles.
The Sheriff’s Office and Cal Fire worked in unified command to carry out the rescue, lowering a litter over the nearly vertical drop, where MADSAR members secured the injured man in the litter, and those up on the roadway prepared for the high-angle lift.
Ropes were anchored to Engine 4294 and Rescue 1, the MADSAR rope rescue support vehicle, and MADSAR team members and firefighters, working in practiced coordination, formed a haul team to pull the man to safety.
In order to keep the roadway clear and allow everyone to work safely, Road 274 was shut down at Road 331 near the Bass Lake Courthouse, and at Road 432, the turnoff to The Pines Resort. Traffic was diverted along the North Shore Drive.
When the man was safely delivered to the roadway just after 6 p.m., EMTs and paramedics immediately evaluated his condition, checking for injuries and preparing him for transport. The man was alert and answered questions readily, though he was experiencing pain in his arm, which appeared to have been broken in the fall. He also suffered some scrapes and contusions.
Sierra Ambulance transported their patient to a landing zone on Cowboy’s Trail, where CHP’s H40 helicopter had set down. The injured man was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
There was no chance to speak with the good Samaritans who came to the man’s aid immediately following the incident, as they disappeared back down the creek after the fall victim was in the custody of medical professionals. They did, however, contact us the next morning with their incredible account. The read the rest of this story, click here.
The roadway was reopened about 6:30 p.m.