- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 21, 2017

MOUNT HOPE, Ala. (AP) - A two-day rescue effort coordinated by Moulton and Lawrence County emergency responders ended successfully when a Mississippi man was discharged from a Jasper hospital after a hiking injury in Bankhead National Forest.

The rescue of John McBride, 49, of Jackson, began Sunday afternoon, and finished at 10:15 a.m. Monday when he was taken by ambulance from the Thompson Creek Trailhead in the Sipsey Wilderness to Walker Baptist Medical Center.

McBride, an architect, injured his right ankle Sunday about 5½ miles from the trailhead while walking with six other hikers. Fellow hiker Griffin Hatcliff said members of the hiking group from the First Presbyterian Church in Jackson were on their way to Big Tree when McBride apparently lost his footing on a slippery log and his ankle made contact with the ground in an awkward position. Hatcliff said the incident happened about 2:30 p.m.

Big Tree in the Sipsey Wilderness Area of the Bankhead National Forest is the largest poplar tree in the state and among the largest in the Southeast. It is a popular destination for Bankhead hikers.

“It looked like he had broken his ankle pretty bad,” Hatcliff said. “It didn’t sound like a bone break. . We (splinted) it up pretty good, and we realized we weren’t going to move him out of there without help.”

Hikers Billy Dempsey and Sebastian Bjernegard said they decided to leave the rest of the party and walked 5½ miles to the church van parked at the remote trailhead. They said they drove to a spot where cellphone service was available a few miles away and contacted emergency officials. Lawrence County 911 Director Johnny Cantrell said his office received the call at 4:34 p.m. Sunday.

Dempsey said Lawrence County EMTs and Moulton firefighters arrived about 5:30 p.m. to begin the 5½-mile trek to McBride.

Bjernegard said four EMTs and two firefighters went about a mile and turned back to the trailhead. “We led six firefighters to the location where (McBride) was,” he said. “Everybody had lights.”

Hatcliff said the rescuers arrived at the camp about 8 p.m.

After resting, they put the 240-pound McBride at times on a sled that they could drag along the trail, and at other times he was able to hop on one foot, Dempsey said. Hatcliff said after crossing creeks and downed trees, they set up camp about 4:30 a.m. About 7 a.m., more responders arrived with food and water.

“The responders deserve an awful lot of credit,” Dempsey added.

Hatcliff said his group was taking advantage of a three-day weekend and that most have hiked Bankhead in the past.

Ranger Andy Scott said Sipsey Wilderness rules prohibit mechanical transportation of any kind unless it is a life-threatening situation. On Monday morning about 8:30, an Alabama Law Enforcement Agency helicopter was dispatched to the area. Scott said dropping a line to the injured victim would have violated the forest service’s laws.

Scott said he initially called Back-Country Horsemen to help in the rescue, but they were not needed.

Authorities said Mount Hope Volunteer Fire Department and Haleyville Search and Rescue also assisted in the rescue.

Still at the scene about 11 a.m. Monday, Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell said responders usually answer about one to two hiking incidents a month during the spring and summer months.

___

Information from: The Decatur Daily, https://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide