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Hiker from Montana rescued from under "refrigerator"-sized boulder in Washington

Posted at 5:43 PM, Oct 13, 2022

A 28-year-old Montana man was rescued earlier this week after he became trapped under a "refrigerator"-sized boulder while hiking in Washington, local authorities said. After an hours-long rescue operation, the man was airlifted to a hospital, where he was expected to recover.

The incident began at approximately 9:30 a.m. local time on Monday, when the man's hiking partner called authorities to say his friend's wrist and legs were pinned by the rock, according to a statement from the Chelan County Sheriff's Office. It's not clear how the man, identified as Ben Delahunty, became trapped.

Delahunty was "several hours" from the trailhead and was stuck in an area that could only be accessed safely with ropes, which the sheriff's office said made the rescue especially complicated. But using "air bladders" — extra-strong bags that can be inflated to lift objects — authorities freed Delahunty at approximately 2:50 p.m.

Rescuers then faced another problem: due to a strong wind, a first attempt to remove Delahunty from the trail was unsuccessful. But by 4:45, the sheriff's office said, the weather had calmed enough that he could be airlifted to a local hospital. The rescuers on the scene then hiked home, returning to the trailhead at approximately 11 p.m.

A union for firefighters in Wenatchee Valley posted video of the operation, which showed rescuers being battered by winds as a person was hoisted into the air by a helicopter.

The sheriff's office said Delahunty sustained "significant injuries to his leg" but is expected to recover.