Park ranger dies in rescue effort

Nickalas Tabbert

A rescue operation turned deadly on Mount Rainier in Washington Thursday when a park ranger fell to his death while attempting to rescue four climbers.

The National Park Service identified the ranger as Nick Hall, 34, a four-year veteran of Mount Rainier's climbing program from Maine.  Rangers said Hall fell over 3,000 feet on the mountain’s northeast side while helping evacuate four injured climbers by helicopter.

The accident took place at around 2 p.m. local time while Hall was trying to help two men and two women leave the mountainside by helicopter, in Washington said.  It was reportedly while harnessing one of the injured climbers to a Chinook helicopter that Hall slid to his death.

“He did not respond to attempts to contact him and was not moving,” the NPS said in a statement.  “High winds and a rapidly lowering cloud ceiling made rescue efforts extremely difficult.”

Three of the four climbers were able to be airlifted but the fourth had to spend the night on the mountain “in a safe location, with Mount Rainier National Park climbing rangers,” the statement said.

The party had been traveling along the Emmons Glacier Route down from the summit when the two women slipped and fell into a crevasse, said Kevin Bacher, a spokesman for Mount Rainier National Park.

One of the hikers had a working cell phone and was able to notify park rangers, MSNBC said.  Rescue crews on foot located the climbers and lifted the two of the crevasse prior to attempting to transfer them to a helicopter.

Hall was a former Marine sergeant and avalanche forecaster at Yellowstone National Park, according to his Facebook page.

The park ranger’s death follows the New Year’s Day killing of Margaret Anderson, who was shot dead at a roadblock when she stopped a man suspected in a Seattle shooting.