CARROLL, N.H. - Michael Couch, an amputee, set out on a journey to climb Mount Washington over the weekend as part of an effort to raise money for his 'Lost Limbs Foundation.'
But a back injury stopped him nearly a mile and a half from the summit. Without assistance, Couch would be unable to make it back down the mountain, so he called for a rescue and sent his GPS coordinates.
Members of the Pemigewassett Valley Search and Rescue and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue quickly mobilized to help get Couch to safety, but carrying someone up the mountain for more than a mile or even down the mountain for more than three miles would be very difficult.
So a call was made to the Mount Washington Cog Railway, which happened to be in the middle of its 150th anniversary celebration because the tracks were only a half mile down the trail from the injured hiker.
“Wayne Presby and his staff didn’t hesitate a bit when I called and asked if it was a possibility to use one of the Cog trains to rescue this hiker,” said Fish & Game Lieutenant Mark Ober. “Even with all they had going on as part of their 150th Anniversary, I briefed them on the situation and they located an engineer and brakeman and within an hour the train was taking up a crew of rescuers.”
The rescue team, led by Lt. Ober, were taken up the mountain on the train, dropped off at 7:53 p.m. and were able to reach Couch and get him back to the train by 8:45.
“Having the ability to utilize machinery to assist in a Search and Rescue is a luxury that is almost never available, so when this situation presented itself we were extremely lucky to have the ability to request assistance from the COG and have them respond so quickly," Lt. Ober said. "I can’t thank them enough for their willingness to help in this situation.”
Couch was back to the base by 9:15 and taken to the hospital.
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