Crime - Sacto 911

CHP helicopter crew hoists injured Placer County hiker to safety

California Highway Patrol

An Auburn woman injured while hiking east of Colfax on Thursday was rescued by a California Highway Patrol helicopter crew that heard the 911 call while flying over Sacramento.

The injured woman, identified as 59-year-old Debbie Steenkalk, called 911 on her cellphone about 2:30 p.m. after suffering an injury 41/2 miles in on the Stevens Trail, just east of Colfax, according to a CHP news release. Due to the remote area and rugged terrain, the helicopter crew responded to assist rescuers searching on the ground. Steenkalk was hiking with a friend, and the helicopter crew spotted a woman standing next to the victim and waving.

The helicopter crew was able to land next to the north fork of the American River and hike about 150 yards up a steep hillside to reach Steenkalk. They determined that she had a possible ankle fracture and was unable to walk.

Flight officer and paramedic Matt Calcutt and pilot Monty Emery cared for Steenkalk, splinting her leg and stabilizing her, CHP officials said. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Engine Co. 2373 and AMR Ambulance personnel from Colfax hiked in and met with the helicopter crew. Because of the steep terrain, it was determined that the safest course of action was to hoist Steenkalk into the helicopter and deliver her to a landing zone in Colfax.

She was flown to the Colfax landing zone, where she was met by her husband. From there, Steenkalk chose to have her husband drive her to a hospital rather than being flown by helicopter or transported by ground ambulance, CHP officials said.

The CHP said the fact that Steenkalk was hiking with a friend and that they had cellphones with them contributed to the rescue’s successful outcome. Once the injury occurred, they quickly called 911 to summon aid. Without the cellphone, it would have been hours before someone learned of the problem. By that time, officials said, light as well as cold overnight temperatures would have become issues.

Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.