A routine helicopter rescue went disastrously wrong after a basket carrying an injured elderly hiker began to spin out of control.
In multiple media reports, authorities say a 74-year-old female hiker had to be rescued by helicopter after getting injured during a trek on a mountain in Phoenix, Arizona.
Fire officials told The Guardian the woman was put in a “stretcher-like device” that is lifted up from the ground to the helicopter. Video of the event has been posted, depicting the spinning incident as it unfolded.
“Oh. Got the spin,” someone says during the video, as the woman begins to spin as the basket comes closer to the helicopter. The pilots then lower the basket in the hopes of slowing it down – it has the opposite effect.
In what looks like a confused attempt to stop the basket from spinning, it is then brought back toward the helicopter to slow it down – it has the opposite effect.
The woman then begins to spin astonishingly fast, to the fright of the news crew covering the incident, but again the helicopter decides to let the basket down.
“That’s not good. Definitely passed out by now,” the narrator says, adding: “There you go, let ’em down.”
Paul Apolinar, the chief pilot of the police department’s aviation unit, told ABC 15 News that a second line to prevent exactly this scenario from happening broke, causing the stretcher to spin out of control.
As a result, the closer the basket got to the rotors only “accelerated the rate of rotation”, which went on for nearly a minute.
“In the last six years, we’ve used a hoist 210 times on mountain rescues,” Apolinar said, adding: “In that time, we know of [a similar situation] happening twice.”
The woman, who was later transported to a trauma centre for evaluation, is astonishingly said to be in a stable condition despite being spun around like a whilring dervish or a spinning top.
The event has spawned a wealth of memes, with one Twitter user comparing “Granny” to a Beyblade and another to the Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil:
That helicopter rescue:
— KFC Radio (@KFCradio) June 5, 2019
Got granny looking like a Beyblade https://t.co/VqAwp5coMp
— Khadi Don (@KhadiDon) June 5, 2019
a lot of people acting like they've never seen a helicopter rescue team centrifuge the rattlesnake venom right out of an old lady's body with the only tools they have available
— thomas violence (@thomas_violence) June 4, 2019
Am now imagining another helicopter coming to rescue that helicopter spinning both it and the already-spinning woman https://t.co/idtE3jIdKg
— Jess Dweck (@TheDweck) June 5, 2019
Voice-actor and animator Mike Lauer suggested the woman join the space program after surviving the ordeal:
I really hope this poor old lady survived this ‘rescue’… also, if she did, send her to space. She’s more ready and capable than most humans. https://t.co/4insGrMXfg
— Mick (@RicepirateMick) June 5, 2019