Sergeant Glen Lucas
August 14, 2023
Thompson Meserve’s Purchase, NH – A Pennsylvania man suffered an unknown medical emergency while ascending the Osgood Trail, which leads to Mt. Madison, on Friday August 11, 2023 at approximately 4:30 p.m. Jason Apreku, 21, of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, was hiking with friends when he experienced the unknown medical emergency and collapsed on the trail.
His friend called 911 and performed CPR for an extended period of time. AMC personnel and passing hikers assisted in the life-saving effort as well. This life-saving effort continued for hours in an attempt to give Apreku every chance of survival.
The 911 call prompted an emergency response from New Hampshire Fish and Game Officers as well. Due to the nature of the call, NH Fish and Game called the New Hampshire Army National Guard to see if they could assist in the life-saving rescue. The National Guard called crews back into service on Friday evening and had wheels off the ground as soon as possible. The National Guard responded from Concord to Mt. Madison with a flight time of 35 minutes.
While the helicopter was en route from Concord, Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue team members hiked up from Appalachia Parking Lot in Randolph as a backup plan, in case the helicopter could not pick Apreku up off the mountain ridge.
The weather on Mt. Washington, only a few mountain peaks away from the call, had gusts of up to 90 miles per hour with a wind chill of 29 degrees Fahrenheit during the time of the call for help. This weather information was relayed to the commanding officer of the National Guard and the decision was made to have the helicopter crew continue so that all effort was put forward in an attempt to save Apreku’s life.
When the helicopter crew arrived in the area, they flew to the highest elevations that the cloud cover would allow in order to assess the chance of getting Apreku off the mountain. Despite all efforts and hoping that the clouds would lift and the wind would settle down, the helicopter crew could not get to the hiker.
An alternate attempt was made to fly two Conservation Officers up to the mountain ridge, below the cloud ceiling, and drop them off to hasten the rescue mission. It was agreed between the National Guard crew and Conservation Officers that the capabilities of the helicopter in wind so severe and the risk of dropping the Conservation Officers off below tree line with fast-moving clouds was not an option.
After multiple hours of CPR, AED deployment, and many other life-saving efforts, Apreku succumbed to the unknown medical issue.
Rescue crews from Androscoggin Valley Search and Rescue Team (AVSAR), members of Appalachian Mountain Club, and Conservation Officers continued to hike to Apreku’s location throughout the night on August 11 and into the morning of August 12. Once enough rescue personnel arrived on scene, Apreku was placed in a litter and carried to Madison Spring Hut. Bringing Apreku up and over the summit of Mt. Madison to the Madison Spring Hut was a grueling and challenging feat with extreme wind gusts and below-freezing temperatures. All rescue personnel had “full winter gear on” to include fleece layers, puffy jackets, winter hats, goggles, etc. Winter gear was an absolute must, and visibility was extremely minimal.
The rescue crew reached the Madison Spring Hut at approximately 4:10 a.m. on August 12. A second wave of Conservation Officers hiked up from the Appalachia Parking Lot at 4:00 a.m. to relieve the extremely tired AVSAR team that worked very hard to get Apreku off the trail and to the hut throughout the night and morning.
At 7:00 a.m., another request was made for a helicopter crew to the National Guard to reduce the risk to rescue personnel by avoiding the call up of more than 30 rescuers, had Apreku needed to be carried down the Valley Way Trail. The National Guard already had a helicopter crew training for the day in Concord and was able fly up to the Madison Spring Hut and bring Apreku off the mountain. The National Guard made two more trips to the hut and relayed down all rescue personnel as well.
Apreku was taken into the care of Bryant’s Funeral Home in Berlin.