On June 4, 2019, a woman in her 70s was hiking in Phoenix, Arizona, when she accidentally lacerated her face and injured her hip and wrist. Although a helicopter came to airlift her to safety, things took a sudden turn for the worse.
Being airlifted by a helicopter isn’t always the smoothest of rides, and sometimes the attached rope will cause a slight spin. However, on this occasion, the spinning went wildly out of control with the elderly woman helplessly attached below.
Pauk Apolinar, the chief pilot in the Phoenix Police Department’s Air Support Unit, admitted to ABC 15, “We have a line attached to the basket that’s supposed to prevent that. Today it didn’t.”
Each time the pilots tried to lower the basket to stop the spinning it would decrease, but open raising it again, the spinning would become more violent. According to pilot Derek Geisel, “They tried to stop some of the spin with the line that Paul was referring to, but that didn’t work and it eventually broke.”
Although the situation is a rare occurrence, Apolinar notes that in the 210 rescues over the past six years, an issue like this has only happened twice. The woman eventually made it to safety and received no further injuries from the botched rescue.