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Hiker airlifted after being trapped under boulder for 7 hours

A hiker in California was trapped under a boulder weighing at least 6,000 pounds for seven hours before being freed by rescuers.
Hiker airlifted after being trapped under boulder for 7 hours
Posted at 8:56 AM, Dec 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-11 10:56:20-05

A person hiking in California's Inyo Mountains was rescued on Dec. 5 after being pinned underneath a boulder for seven hours, Inyo County Search and Rescue said. 

Rescuers said the hiker was located near Independence, California. Using a helicopter and ground vehicles on a road network for four-wheel drive vehicles, they reached the hiker who was in "great pain." They said the hiker's left leg was pinned beneath the 6,000- to 10,000-pound boulder on a steep hillside. 

Inyo County Search and Rescue said rescuers used a system of ropes and pulleys to move the boulder enough to free the hiker. Because there were no suitable landing areas, a Navy medic rappelled from the helicopter and helped the hiker up into the chopper. 

Officials said the hiker was taken to a hospital in Fresno, California. Officials did not provide an update to the person's condition. 

"Challenges encountered on this mission included coordination of multiple agencies and resources; accessing an accident scene in steep, loose rocky terrain; using limited resources to move a large boulder; managing a severely injured patient for several hours while awaiting the helicopter extrication; assisting in a nighttime helicopter hoist; all in chilly December darkness," Inyo County Search and Rescue said.

SEE MORE: Dog rescued after falling into 40-foot well

While temperatures reached the 60s during the day, temperatures dropped to the 20s at night, according to National Weather Service data.

The U.S. Forest Service says that although the mountains appear extremely rugged, they are actually quite fragile. The U.S. Forest Service added that the trails are not maintained and have largely been filled in with vegetation. 


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