A Romantic Miscue Led to a Helicopter Rescue at Great Falls Park near Washington, D.C.
Eagle 2 is a U. S. Park Police helicopter used primarily in the Washington, D.C. area, and it's participated in some dramatic missions. Few, however, have involved a more unusual situation than a recent rescue at Great Falls Park—and it all started with a romantic miscue.
The Aviation Unit of the United States Park Police is a branch of the National Park Service whose mission includes "aviation support for law enforcement, medevac, search and rescue, high-risk prisoner transport and Presidential and dignitary security." Since it's formation in 1973, the unit has been involved in some dramatic missions; perhaps the most notable was the 1982 rescue of victims from the icy waters of the Potomac River after the crash of Air Florida Flight 90.
The Aviation Unit has also been involved in a number of rescues at Great Falls Park, an 800-acre site only 15 miles from the Nation's Capital where "the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge."
Earlier this week, Eagle 2 was involved in a rescue with an unusual angle at Great Falls Park. The following press release by Sergeant David Schlosser of the U. S. Park Police tells the story:
Two local residents had a rocky start to their future together. While hiking the Billy Goat trail in Great Falls Park on September 6th, the couple paused to admire the scenery. The setting was perfect – a late summer day with the sun glinting off the Potomac River below, the breeze pushing through the thick tree canopy, and the grey rocky trail weaving up and down with steep crevasses and a long drop to the water.
The setting was perfect for a hike, but also for more romantic purposes – a marriage proposal. Although many couples have become engaged in this area, this one also engaged the services of the Montgomery County Department of Fire and Rescue Services and the United States Park Police Aviation Section.
The bride to be was swept off her feet – but after the magic moment, she slipped on the rocks and fell a short distance, leaving her with head and chest injuries. Montgomery County Fire medics could only reach her by boat, followed by a scramble up a steep rock face. After the medics evaluated the patient and packaged her on a backboard and stokes basket, they realized that she would either need to be lowered down the steep rocks or carried over a mile of rough terrain.
Neither option was good considering her injuries, so the Park Police were asked for assistance. Eagle 2, with Sgt. Kevin Chittick in command, Sgt. Ken Burchell as co-pilot, and Sgt. Chris Perkins working the medic/rescue technician position, responded to perform a hoist rescue.
The woman was hoisted aboard Eagle 2 and transported to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where she was treated for head and chest injuries and later released.
Oh, yes – prior to her fall, she said ‘yes...’