Helicopter crash kills rescuer
Teton County Search and Rescue pilot Ken Johnson receives assistance Wednesday evening after being flown out of the Togwotee Pass backcountry. Johnson was responding to an incident in the mountains with two other search and rescue members when the helicopter he was piloting crashed. BRADLY J. BONER / JACKSON HOLE DAILYView our entire photo gallery >>
By Emma Breysse, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
February 16, 2012
Update, 10:43 p.m. 02/15/2012 - Teton County Coronor Kiley Campbell identified the rescuer killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash as Ray Shriver, a member of Teton County Search and Rescue for many years.
Presstime post: A Teton County Search and Rescue member was killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash on Togwotee Pass, Coroner Kiley Campbell said.
Campbell would not identify the deceased until family was notified.
The victim was one of three in a county rescue helicopter that was flying to the scene of a reported snowmobile fatality south of Togwotee Mountain Lodge on Wednesday afternoon. Observers saw the aircraft go over a ridge “when it appeared to experience difficulty,” county spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said in a statement.
A ground crew on snowmobiles assembled to respond. High Mountain Heli Skiing sent its airship to the emergency with Grand Teton National Park medics, company owner Jon Shick said.
Search and rescue pilot Ken Johnson was one of the survivors who was lifted from the crash scene to a highway staging area by one of three helicopters. He walked from the rescue helicopter limping heavily at about 5:30 p.m.
Another person aided him before more pitched in. He left in a Fremont County ambulance for Jackson.
Grim-faced emergency personnel carried the second victim from a different helicopter to a Grand Teton National Park ambulance at about 6 p.m.
The third person, who was injured, rode out on the back of a snowmobile driven by a rescuer.
Rescuers hoisted him onto a backboard. He was talking and smiling a little and was able to sit up on his own.
The evacuation wrapped up at approximately 6:30 p.m. St. John’s Medical Center was treating the two surviving victims in the emergency room Wednesday night, hospital spokeswoman Karen Connelly said.
Reynolds’ statement said the helicopter made a crash-landing and was out of communication for 45 minutes. Details of the original snowmobile accident were unavailable at press time.
The tail rotor of the crashed helicopter might have failed, Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said.
The snowmobile rescue call-out came at approximately 2 p.m, officials said. A Civil Air Patrol craft spotted the downed helicopter at 3:15 p.m.
The site was 6.7 miles south of Togwotee Mountain Lodge. The staging area was a quarter-mile west of the lodge on Highway 26/287, 40 miles northeast of Jackson. The site is located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
In addition to the High Mountain Heli Skiing airship, one from Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello, Idaho, was at the highway staging area.
— Cory Hatch and Kevin Huelsmann contributed to this story.