Woman Rescued by Chopper May Never Want to See One Again

Things literally spun out of control
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2019 6:02 AM CDT
Updated Jun 5, 2019 6:33 AM CDT

An elderly woman who got hurt while on a hike near Phoenix is likely grateful she was pulled out of harm's way by a helicopter, though she also may be likely to never want to see a helicopter again. A video from ABC15 Arizona shows the chopper operated by the Phoenix Fire Department start to lift the woman out of where she was stranded on Piestewa Peak on Tuesday morning, starting with some mild rocking and churning that soon evolves into the stretcher spinning in tandem with the helicopter's own propeller. The dizzying, nausea-inducing twirling continues for more than a minute, with the helicopter operator unsuccessfully trying to stop the motion as the patient is pulled closer to the chopper, with the gurney spinning even faster the closer it gets to the helicopter.

Finally, the helicopter once again lowers the stretcher somewhat, the woman still strapped in, and flies away with it still dangling and whirling. Fox News and FOX 10 report that the out-of-control spinning was caused by air turbulence from the chopper's motor after a mechanism meant to prevent such a thing from happening malfunctioned. It's apparently something that happens on occasion during hoist rescues, though not often: The fire department says of the 200-plus such rescues it has performed over the past six years, only two have ended like that, per the Washington Post. No firefighters were hurt during the rescue, and the Guardian reports the woman was said to be in stable condition with non-serious facial and head injuries, though she did suffer some dizziness and nausea from the experience. (Think that chopper rescue was something? Check out this one.)

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