Update: I am very sorry to report that a member of TCSAR, Ray Shriver, has died as a result of this accident. It is another tragic loss to the Jackson Hole and SAR community. Thanks to the Jackson Hole News and Guide for keeping us informed during this very unfortunate event. My condolences go out to friends and family. -Steve
This event is unfolding as we speak and I ask everyone to keep all the members of Teton Country Search and Rescue in their thoughts tonight. A TCSAR helicopter was responding to a snowmobile accident (where the victim subsequently died from their injuries) when it crashed south of Togwotee Pass. I have heard there were three people on the helicopter (including the pilot) when it went down.Â I have also heard a few names mentioned, but will hold that information until it is deemed okay to release it.Â There are a variety of injuries, with one being potentially quite serious. The following is the timeline of events as being reported by Jackson Hole News and Guide.
Based on early reports, Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said there were injuries in the helicopter crash, but no fatalities.â€œI know we have some injuries, theyâ€™re going to be OK,â€ Whalen said. â€œI donâ€™t know where theyâ€™re at with getting them out of the mountains at this point.â€The rear rotor on the helicopter may have failed, the sheriff reported.
4:50 p.m. – A second helicopter is flying to the scene of a search and rescue helicopter crash on Togwotee Pass, Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.
â€œSomewhere we found a second ship,â€ Skaggs said. â€œIt sounds like there should be a second helicopter on the wayâ€
â€œWeâ€™re helping rescue the rescuers.â€
St. Johnâ€™s Medical Center was notified Wednesday afternoon that it â€œmay be receiving injuries from a helicopter incident,â€ hospital spokeswoman Karen Connelly said.
Park rangers, ambulance and EMS personnel are staging on the pass. Snowmobiles were being prepared to â€œget to the injured people,â€ Skaggs said.
5 p.m. – One member of the search and rescue team may have sustained serious injuries in a helicopter crash on Togwotee Pass, Teton County Sheriff Jim Whalen said.
â€œOne of them could be injured worse than what we thought, initially,â€ Whalen said. â€œI think there are people at the crash site now and theyâ€™re packaging them up. Iâ€™m pretty worried.â€
County staff has been in radio contact with the three search and rescue volunteers who were in the helicopter when it crashed, Teton County spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said. She did not have any specific information about their injuries.
â€œThe helicopter has been located and identified,â€ she said Wednesday afternoon, around 4:30 p.m. â€œRight now weâ€™re preparing to get them out.â€
Reynolds said rescue crews were using snowmobiles and at least one helicopter to get to the downed aircraft.
Reynolds did not disclose the names of those involved in the crash but did say their families are being notified.
â€œAt this point weâ€™re still trying to gather information,â€ she said.
Reynolds said search and rescue crews were responding to a call about an injured snowmobiler.
Search and rescue volunteers were called out on rescue at approximately 2 p.m.
5:24 p.m. – Two helicopters are helping with the rescue effort on Togwotee Pass, a Teton County spokeswoman said.
The helicopters are responding to the crash of a search and rescue helicopter earlier this afternoon. The helicopter that crashed was carrying a pilot and two search and rescue team members, county spokeswoman Charlotte Reynolds said.
One helicopter is from Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello, Idaho, and the other is from Helicopter Express, a heli-skiing company with a location in Jackson.
The crash site is 6.7 miles due south of Togwotee Mountain Lodge, the spokeswoman said.
The helicopter from the Jackson-based company is carrying Grand Teton National Park rangers with medical training, Reynolds said.
The rescue crews had arrived at the crash site but had not yet moved the three individuals from the scene, Reynolds said.
She said she was unsure where they would be transported.
5:41 p.m. – A Helicopter from the crash scene is landing at a staging area at Togwotee Pass, a News&Guide reporter at the scene observed.
Rescue workers are setting up a tent at the incident command post near Togwotee Mountain Lodge as the rescue of search and rescue members from a helicopter crash nearby continues.
Approximately 10 vehicles are in a pullout about a quarter of a mile west of the lodge. Rescuers are setting up a command center and perhaps another shelter among three ambulances and a parked helicopter. Vehicles from Grand Teton National Park, the U.S. Forest Service, Teton County Sheriffâ€™s office and Jackson Hole Fire/EMS also are at the site.
Personnel are hooking up generators in what looks like an operation that is preparing to receive injured.
5:45 p.m. – A person being helped out of a helicopter by search and rescue team members at a staging area at Togwotee Pass is limping badly, a reporter at the scene observed.
Helpers are cradling him to an ambulance
He is conscious, but canâ€™t walk on his own.
6:06 p.m. – Rescue workers are carrying a second victim from a second helicopter flight that landed at the staging area on Togwotee Pass.
They cradled and carried the victim straight to an ambulance with worry on their faces, a reporter at the scene observed.
A Fremont County ambulance carrying the first victim brought out by helicopter left the scene headed toward Jackson.
6:35 p.m. â€“ The third of three rescuers involved in a helicopter crash on Togwotee Pass rode out on a snowmobile, a reporter observed.
He was riding behind a driver and was hoisted onto a backboard in a seated position at a highway staging area. He was conscious and could sit up on his own.
He was talking and smiling a little.
Just before he arrived at the staging area, a Grand Teton national Park ambulance left the staging area with the second victim, headed toward Jackson.
7:52 p.m. – A Teton County Search and Rescue team member was killed in the helicopter crash on Togwotee Pass, Teton County Coroner Kiley Campell said. Campbell was witholding the name pending notification of family.