Rescuers carry injured AT hiker from Spaulding Mountain to Sugarloaf

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Jul. 15—MOUNT ABRAM TOWNSHIP — Maine game wardens and about 35 first responders and volunteers rescued an Appalachian Trail hiker from North Carolina who fell Wednesday afternoon on Spaulding Mountain and injured his ankle.

It was nearly an 11-hour rescue effort.

Rescuers carried Richard Sullivan, 65, of Archdale, North Carolina, in a litter basket from the top of Spaulding Mountain to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabasset Valley, according to information provided by Mark Latti, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

"Without the assistance from all of the first responders and volunteers, getting Mr. Sullivan off of the trail would have taken much longer, Warden Sgt. Scott Thrasher said, according to Latti's news statement. "Trail conditions were wet, rocky and steep. It was a great coordinated effort by all involved to get rescuers to the top of Sugarloaf and carrying Mr. Sullivan off the mountain. We have a great group of people in Franklin County to make rescue operations like this one run smooth."

Sullivan and his son, Daniel Sullivan, 36, were attempting to hike the entired Appalachian Trail from Stone Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The pair were at the top of 4,009-foot Spaulding Mountain when Richard slipped and fell, "likely breaking his ankle," according to Latti.

Sullivan was unable to walk and was in a remote section of the trail that is difficult to access, he wrote. Sullivan called 911 at about 1 p.m.

Rescuers reached Sullivan by first traveling to the top of 4,237-foot Sugarloaf Mountain in Carrabassett Valley by vehicle on a maintenance road, and then hiking about 3 1/2 miles down the back side of Sugarloaf Mountain to Sullivan's location on Spaulding Mountain.

Rescuers first reached Sullivan around 5 p.m. They formed a human chain and passed a rescue litter basket with Sullivan up a bypass trail off Spaulding that goes to the top of Sugarloaf. It was the shortest route to get him to Sugarloaf Mountain, Carrabassett Valley Fire Chief Courtney Knapp said Thursday.

They used a special rescue litter equipped with a mountain biking wheel mounted on the bottom of the litter to get Sullivan back north on the Appalachian Trail and up Sugarloaf Mountain to an awaiting vehicle, according to Latti. It was approximately 10:40 p.m. when rescuers brought Sullivan to Sugarloaf.

They used Carrabassett Valley Deputy Fire Chief Bob Carlton's truck to take Sullivan down Sugarloaf to Carrabassett Valley Fire Department's new station on the Access Road, Knapp, who was in the incident commander on the trail, said.

Sullivan was taken by a NorthStar EMS ambulance to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

The rescue was done in windy, rainy conditions, according to Kingfield Fire Chief Fred Nichols, who was incident commander at Sugarloaf.

Sugarloaf ski resort provided 14 to 16 employees that were part of the carry, Knapp said.

"Sugarloaf is highly supportive" when there is incident of this nature with material and people, he said. "Kudos to them."

Responders included Carrabassett Valley, Eustis, Kingfield, Phillips, Strong and Salem Township fire departments. Members of the Franklin Search and Rescue, Maine Warden Service, NorthStar EMS and Franklin County Emergency Management Agency director were also involved.

Knapp also credited the dispatchers at the county Regional Communications Center with getting the help needed and the details of the location of the injured hiker.

The Rack, a restaurant on the Access Road, provided pizza to rescuers and volunteers when they came off the mountain, Knapp said.

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