Mount Washington Hiker Rescued With A Train

Credit: User: (WT-shared) Jtesla16 at wts wikivoyage [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
This past Saturday, June 22, a hiker was injured while attempting to summit Mt. Washington in NH. The rescue became a joint operation not just of search and rescue teams, but was joined by The Mount Washington Cog Railway.

The victim, Michael Couch, 46, is an amputee that was making the hike to raise money for his foundation, Lost Limbs Foundation. At approximately 6:00 PM NH Fish and Game received a call that Couch had been injured and needed to be rescued.

As reported in a press release from NH Fish and Game, Couch's location was about 1.5 miles from the summit and 3 miles from the Base Station. As this was going to be a carryout rescue, a call for volunteers went out, with members of the Pemigewassett Valley Search & Rescue and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue responding. But, Fish and Game Lt. Mark Ober made an interesting observation that could make the rescue far easier than normal.

“However seeing that the Cog Railway tracks were about ½ mile from the injured hiker, I decided to make a call to inquire about the possibility of mechanical assistance."

A brilliant idea, though the Lieutenant had not realized that the Cog Railway was is in the middle of its 150th Anniversary celebration. This didn't stop the Cog from answering the call to duty, however.

“Wayne Presby and his staff didn’t hesitate a bit when I called and asked if it was possibility to use one of the Cog trains to rescue this hiker,” said Lt. 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.” “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. I can’t thank them enough for their willingness to help in this situation.”

Credit: NH Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division and
Operation Game Thief/FB
The rescue train started up the tracks at approximately 7:00 PM and had dropped rescuers off at 7:53 PM. It was less than an hour later that the rescue teams returned to train with Couch. The train, rescue teams, and the victim all arrived at the Base Station at approximately 9:15 PM.

The condition of Michael Couch has not been reported.


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