Navy ’copter answers the call

When high winds thwarted a Snohomish County air rescue attempt Saturday near Ellensburg, a search and rescue helicopter from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station answered the call.

Georgia Nichols, 58, of Kennewick, sustained injuries when she slid 60 feet down a rock face on Hi Box Mountain in Kittitas County. Nichols was hiking with her husband when the accident occurred.

After the air rescue Saturday was in vain, NAS Whidbey was contacted. The high winds precluded an immediate response and the couple spent the night on the mountain. The military helicopter set off Sunday at 5 a.m. and plucked the woman off the ground.

“Her injuries weren’t life threatening,” said Kim Martin, NAS Whidbey public information officer. “That’s why they were able to wait until the next morning.”

The SAR copter was back by 7:15 a.m., one more rescue in what has already been a busy year. The team has made nine rescues and seven medical evacuations in 2007, assisting a total of 21 people.

“And we’re only in early July,” Martin said.

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