Lieutenant Mark Ober
June 22, 2019
Thompson & Meserves Purchase, NH – At approximately 6:00 p.m., a call was received by Fish and Game reporting that a hiker on the Jewell Trail had suffered an injury to his back and was not able to continue. The hiker, identified as Michael Couch, 46, of Atlanta, IN, is an amputee who was attempting to hike to the summit of Mt. Washington as an effort to raise money for his foundation, the Lost Limbs Foundation.
Couch had almost reached the junction with Jewell Trail and Gulfside Trail when the injury occurred. The GPS coordinates placed him 1.5 miles from the summit of Mt. Washington and approximately 3 miles from the Base Station.
Knowing that a carryout was going to be arduous no matter what route was taken, a call for Search and Rescue volunteers was made and several members from both the Pemigewassett Valley Search and Rescue (PEMI SAR) and Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue (AVSAR) responded. “Carrying an injured person is far more taxing going uphill than going down, so the plan was to carry Couch down the Jewell Trail,” said Fish & Game Lieutenant Mark Ober. “However, seeing that the Cog Railway tracks were about .5 miles from the injured hiker, I decided to inquire about the possibility of mechanical assistance.”
“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.”
The train departed the base station at approximately 7:00 p.m. and dropped off the rescuers at 7:53 p.m. The hiker was secured in the litter and carried to the train by 8:45 p.m. From there was brought down on the train to the Base Station arriving at approximately 9:15 p.m.