Race Director Injured While Checking Trail

 A rescue swimmer is lifted aboard a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Gavan Ridge after he helped hoist an injured hiker to the helicopter. (Photo by Don Kluting, Sitka Mountain Rescue)

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
    The longtime director of the Alpine Adventure Run broke her hip in a fall as she hiked the race course Sunday, and was medevacked to Anchorage for surgery.
    At the time of the accident, Chris Horan, 62, was hiking the trail with her husband. Charles Horan said it was one of the many on-site checks of the race course his wife makes in the weeks leading up to the event, which will be held on July 20 this year.
     “She was checking the trail, looking for hazards,” Charles said. The two had passed the shelter at the top of Gavan Hill and were coming down into the saddle between Gavan and Harbor Mountain when Chris thought she heard a bear. Charles was about 30 yards behind her, when he heard her yell a warning to her husband. She then took a few steps, lost her footing and fell to the ground, Charles said.
    Chris didn’t know she had broken her hip, but knew she was in pain, Charles said.
    A physician hiking in the area heard Chris yelling, and came to help, Sitka Mountain Rescue director Don Kluting said today. Rescuers said that one of the first people on the scene ran about a mile to get within cell phone range, and called 911. Police received the call at 3:46 p.m.
    Kluting said there was some miscommunication at the outset about the Horans’ location, resulting in some responders going directly to the Harbor Mountain picnic shelter. SMR volunteer Matt Hunter, who was hiking in the area, told Kluting he would check out Gavan Hill. He found the Horans and alerted the other rescuers about the location, Kluting said.
    The physician and SMR team members stabilized the patient at the scene, and she was hoisted by a helicopter from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sitka.
    Kluting said it was a multiagency response that included Coast Guard, Sitka Fire Department, Sitka Mountain Rescue and the doctor from SEARHC-Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital who happened to be hiking in the area.
    “It was a very successful multiagency response,” said Kluting who personally responded to the rescue call. As an aside, he added that Chris Horan was correct in sensing that there was a bear around: he spotted one on his hike from Harbor Mountain to the rescue site.
    After Chris Horan’s injury was diagnosed as a broken hip she was medevacked to Anchorage Sunday afternoon and admitted to the Alaska Native Medical Center, Charles said. He said today that his wife was in a lot of pain, and awaiting surgery. He said prayers that the surgery happens sooner rather than later would be welcome.
    Kluting said that the Horans did everything right in coping with the emergency.
    “They were well prepared, they had survival equipment and communications,” Kluting said. “This is an illustration, that even on a simple day hike, in good weather, things can go poorly. The Horans had the right knowledge, and clothing, and that assisted in the patient outcome here.”
    Chris Horan is the director of the Alpine Adventure Run, a popular 7-mile race that draws athletes from around the country.

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