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Death Valley park rangers save hikers in heroic rescues

Rangers at Death Valley National Park rescued two hikers last Sunday in separate incidents, including one where an Illinois woman broke her leg and tore her ACL.

National Park Service staff came to the rescue of two hikers in separate incidents at Death Valley National Park last Sunday. 

The agency said an Illinois woman in her 30s who had broken her tibia and ruptured her ACL was carried out of Mosaic Canyon.

Her companions stayed with her after the incident and a bystander hiked out and called 911 to request assistance at around 8 a.m. PT. 

Nine park employees and two American Conservation Experience interns carried the injured hiker out using a wheeled litter. 

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The park ambulance transported her to Stovepipe Wells helipad at around 11:30 a.m., and a private helicopter ambulance flew her to a Lancaster, California hospital. 

Mosaic Canyon is a popular hike in a narrow canyon lined with polished marble walls. 

Hours later, at around 4 p.m., the park received requests to locate a missing hiker along Wildrose Peak Trail

A hiking club was near the 9,064-foot snow-covered summit when one man in the group decided to remain behind due to head and body aches. The group agreed that he would wait for them and then descend the trailhead together. 

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The man, who is from New Jersey and over 60 years old, got cold and decided to move down the trail to warm up. However, he lost the trail and descended a drainage. He went back uphill to the ridge before turning around and going back down the drainage. 

Wildrose Peak Trail is 8.4 miles round-trip, but the lost hiker ended up walking 18 miles, according to his fitness watch. 

The other members of his group assumed he had hiked out ahead of them, and when they arrived at the trailhead and found that he was not there, they conducted a quick search. They drove to Stovepipe Wells Resort and reported the missing hiker.

At around the same time, the park received a 911 call from the man, who the agency said had no food and was wearing "inadequate" warm clothing. Temperatures in the area were forecast to drop below freezing overnight. 

"NPS notified California Highway Patrol and Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake of a potential request for a helicopter search, but the hiker was located before they were needed," the Park Service said. 

Two park rangers located the hiker by making loud sounds and guided him toward the road.

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