KODIAK, Alaska – A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew rescued two stranded, hypothermic mine workers on the Tsirku River, off the Chilkat River, 23 miles North of Haines, Alaska, Saturday.
The Jayhawk aircrew safely transferred the men to awaiting emergency medical services personnel in Juneau. The men were reported to have been mildly hypothermic upon transfer to higher care.
Watchstanders at District 17 command center received notification from Alaska State Troopers requesting assistance with rescuing two male miners in the Chilkat River area. They were transferring mining equipment when they swamped and submerged their vehicle in a remote portion of the site. They were reported to have been hypothermic, as they became stranded Friday afternoon at approximately 2:30 p.m. They were reported to have made a make-shift shelter in a ditch approximately 250 yards from the water, but were experiencing difficulties maintaining their fire. District granted an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew to assist. The aircrew launched and recovered the two men Saturday morning.
“This is one of those cases that reminds us how important it is to prepare for any outdoor activity here in Alaska,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Dave Hastings, an avionics electrical technician on the case. “Having the proper equipment and clothing was their saving grace in this situation. Despite the degraded weather, we were still able to communicate and triumph over the severe winter weather.”
Weather on scene had winds exceeding 20 mph, low temperatures with freezing conditions, and low visibility.