Mountain biker rescued in Pisgah after ankle injury
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By Derek Lacey
Times-News Staff Writer
An effort to save an injured mountain biker deep in Pisgah National Forest Wednesday took rescue agencies from Henderson and Transylvania counties more than seven hours to complete.
Rescue agencies received the call at about 10:50 a.m., Mills River Fire and Rescue Capt. Chris Ballinger said. Rescuers didn’t get the man on his way to the hospital until 6:30 p.m. due to rough terrain and narrow trails.
The mountain biker was taken to Transylvania Regional Hospital with ankle injuries, which had prevented him from walking, Ballinger said.
Jason Davis, who serves as assistant chief with Mills River Fire and Rescue as well as deputy chief with North Transylvania Fire Department, was the incident commander. He said the mountain biker was about as far into the wilderness as one can get in that area, surrounded by rough terrain with no easy way in or out.
The mountain biker was injured on Squirrel Gap Trail, a singletrack trail between Cantrell Creek Trail and Horse Cove Gap Trail that could not be accessed by ATVs, and had to be carried several miles.
Davis said that first the subject had to be located, as the 911 caller was unsure of the injured mountain biker’s exact location. The caller had to ride about two miles to a ridge top to get cell service, he said, meaning the injury likely occurred shortly after 10 a.m.
hen crews went to work extricating him from the narrow trail, Davis said.
Davis first established command at the Turkey Pen Trail head, he said. About halfway through the rescue effort, he relocated the command center to Wolf Ford Road.
He urged mountain bikers and anyone going into the forest to be prepared — to always let someone know where they’re going and which route they’re taking, a departure and return time, and to bring plenty of water and supplies, enough to stay overnight if necessary.
He also pointed out that at this time of year in Western North Carolina, the days can be beautiful, but the nights can still get cold.
Davis praised the performance and cooperation of the rescuers and agencies, calling their response a great teamwork effort and extraordinary work by the 30 to 40 volunteer and career staff from 10 agencies, including Mills River Fire and Rescue, North Transylvania Fire Department, both Henderson and Transylvania county rescue squads, Little River Fire Department, Brevard Fire Department, Lake Toxaway Fire Department, Transylvania County Emergency Management and Etowah Horse Shoe Fire and Rescue.