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Hurt Climber Rescued on Mt. Rainier Dies

May 18, 2004

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) _ A seriously injured climber who was rescued by helicopter after being stranded on Mount Rainier has died, a medical examiner’s spokeswoman said Monday night.

``We have been advised he has passed away,″ said Mary deTracy, a medical investigator with the Pierce County medical examiner’s office.

She declined to identify the climber by name, but Peter Cooley, 39, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, had been rescued earlier from the mountain southeast of Tacoma.

An Oregon National Guard helicopter took advantage of a sudden break in the clouds to retrieve him Monday night. Earlier in the day, two national park rangers reached the climber and his companion by foot, but decided to put off a rescue attempt until Tuesday because of the steep terrain and snow.

Cooley was taken to Madigan Army Medical Center near Tacoma but was dead when he arrived, said Dave Kuhns, a Fort Lewis Army base spokesman, citing information from hospital officials. Kuhns said relatives had been notified, but he had no further details. Madigan officials referred all calls to the Fort Lewis spokesman.

The climbers were stranded at 12,300 feet since Saturday on a 45-degree slope with steep and rocky terrain above and below them.

Cooley fell 30 feet early Saturday on Liberty Ridge _ one of the most difficult routes up the 14,410-foot mountain. His climbing partner, Scott Richards, 42, also of Cape Elizabeth, was able to reach him, set up a tent and call for help on a cell phone.

Cooley had been in stable condition Monday afternoon but was exhibiting signs of a life-threatening head injury and appeared to have shoulder and leg injuries, park ranger Patti Wold said.

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