North Carolina Department of Public safety released 911 audio and footage of two hikers being rescued after being lost in the Shining Rock Wilderness area of Haywood County. First responders began searching for the hikers identified as David Crockett, 23, and a Sultan Alraddadi, 29 last Friday.
Early Saturday morning the hikers called 911 again.
The two men said they were very cold and completely out of food and water.
In addition to local rescue crews, five mountain rescue teams sponsored by NC Emergency Management were called in for backup due to the steep terrain, below freezing temperatures, snow and ice.
The rescue happened thanks to the efforts of helicopter crews and nearly 100 ground based rescuers from over two dozen local, state and federal agencies.
A State Highway Patrol helicopter crew using thermal imaging found the pair.
The State Highway Patrol helicopter relayed their coordinates to a NC Emergency Management Helo Aquatic Rescue Team (NC HART) that was refueling in Asheville.
Reaching the coordinates after nightfall, the NC HART crew was unable to relocate the hikers using night vision goggles and called in a third National Guard helicopter that was training in the area. The hikers were relocated, picked up by the NC HART crew and flown to Asheville where they were transported to the hospital. The condition of the two men was not immediately known.
“With below-zero temperatures expected tonight, time was running out,” said NC Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.
We are fortunate that all these resources were available and worked together to execute this extremely complicated rescue. The key to the success of this response was teamwork from all the responders.
Also assisting in the search was the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, State Bureau of Investigation, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Efforts were hindered by the poor cell phone reception in the search area and the hiker’s phone died before it could be triangulated.