An injured hiker stuck on a mountain should have been relieved to see the helicopter sent to her aid arrive – but things rapidly took a turn during her rescue.
The woman, 74, was put into a basket to be hoisted into the helicopter but it began dramatically spinning out of control as she was winched into the air.
Video shows the basket spiralling at astonishing speed.
Authorities say the woman was left feeling ‘nauseous and dizzy’ but thankfully suffered ‘no ill effects from the spin’.
Emergency services were called to the mountain after the woman, who has not been identified, fell and hit her head.
She was picked up on Tuesday morning at Piestewa Peak, a popular hiking mountain in Phoenix, Arizona, US.
Firefighters said the woman was whipped around while being hoisted to safety, but wasn’t otherwise affected by the rescue.
Phoenix Fire Captain Bobby Dubnow told local reporters: ‘Reports from the hospital are that she had no ill effects from the spin.’
The Phoenix Police Department assisted with the helicopter rescue using standard equipment and following procedures.
Pilot Paul Apolinar said that in the last six years, the department has performed 210 mountain rescues, plus hundreds more in training, in similar situations, and he had only witnessed the spinning happen twice.
He said: ‘Sometimes if we’re in a canyon, it’s a strong windy day, it will spin on us.
‘It’s not something that happens very often, but sometimes it just does. And when it does, we’re trained to take care of it.’
According to co-pilot Derek Geisel, a line attached to the hoist that keeps the basket from windmilling as it’s drawn into the helicopter’s rotor wash broke.
He said: ‘We brought it down again and brought it back up, hoping some of the spin would lessen, which it didn’t, obviously.’
As the helicopter flew forward, the spin slowed down enough for firefighters to fully hoist the woman to safety.
Fire captain Dubnow said he was ‘at least able to make some eye contact’ with the injured woman and said: ‘I could tell she was doing OK.’
He added that due to the woman’s age and the temperature on the mountain: ‘The helicopter was the correct decision.’
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