Helicopter Rescues 5 from Knik River
March 4, 2014
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  • The Alaska Air National Guard used a helicopter to pluck five people from a waterlogged ATV on the Knik River Saturday.

    According to a press release from the National Guard, the call to respond came in from Alaska State Troopers at 11:35 p.m. The five people got stranded after their Argo — a type of six-wheeled amphibious ATV — became stuck on an ice floe.

    “AST was unable to respond because of night restrictions and the lack of hoist capability,” according to the guard’s press release.

    After a fatal helicopter crash last year, troopers instituted a restriction on night flying. The guard says that ground rescuers also were unable to help due to thin ice.

    “A helicopter extraction was decided to be the safest extraction method,” Senior Master Sgt. Robert Carte, superintendent of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, said in the press release.

    Which is to say that all five people on the Argo were plucked one at a time from the river and hoisted up to the helicopter, in this instance an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 210th Rescue Squadron.

    Guardsmen evaluated them, then flew them to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer where they were released. The helicopter returned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson at 2:55 a.m., Sunday.

    “In this case, the stranded party was lucky to be in cellphone range to call for help,” Carte says in the press release. “Due to limited cell service across the state, and because batteries sometimes die, we always recommend Alaskans file a trip plan with a responsible third party that can notify authorities if you become overdue.”