Two crews, one helicopter, rescue injured man in San Bernardino Mountains



An injured all-terrain vehicle rider and three hikers experiencing heat-related illnesses were rescued over the weekend in the San Bernardino Mountains in three separate operations by sheriff’s aviation crews.

On Saturday, the crews of two helicopters had to combine in one aircraft for a hoist rescue in the Crab Flats area east of Lake Arrowhead.

A 2:50 p.m. call for aid to the ATV accident victim went to both the San Bernardino County sheriff’s and fire departments. But the accident on a dirt trail at the 6,900-foot level was not accessible to regular-size vehicles, and Fire Department personnel could not get to the site, according to a news release from the Sheriff’s Department.

The crew of sheriff’s patrol helicopter 40K2 flew to the area and was guided to the accident site by people with the victim, identified as Mel Peabody, 53, of National City.

Pilot Deputy Ryan Peppler and Flight Officer Deputy Brad Heard attempted several landings, but could not touch down because of the terrain. They decided on a hoist rescue.

Peppler and Heard met with the crew of patrol helicopter 40K3 in an area near the accident. Pilot Deputy Paul Kowalski and Cpl. Ed Leon of the second craft joined the crew of 40K2 and returned to the scene. Heard lowered Leon about 90 feet down to Peabody.

Leon put a rescue harness on Peabody, who had suffered a shoulder injury. Peabody was hoisted aboard 40K2 and flown to a Lake Arrowhead hospital.

Because of the patrol helicopters’ capacity, Leon stayed at the scene until the victim was dropped off; the helicopter then returned and hoisted Leon back up.

About 20 minutes before the call came in about the ATV accident, the crew of 40K2 had been called out to Deep Creek Hot Springs to help a young woman suffering a heat-related injury.

The popular site on the desert side of the San Bernardino National Forest near Apple Valley is “surrounded by steep canyon walls and is only accessible after…

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