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Mountainside Helicopter Crash Victim Rescued

March 6, 1992

SAFFORD, Ariz. (AP) _ A doctor and a paramedic rescued a badly injured helicopter crash victim Thursday from his precarious spot on a snowy mountainside. Two died in the crash.

Paramedic Thomas Price, a sheriff’s deputy from Tucson, lowered himself by rope, then Dr. Richard Carmona hopped out as their helicopter hovered near a ledge on Mount Grahan, said Graham County Undersheriff C.B. Fletcher.

They helped Glenn Velardi, another paramedic who was working on the medical emergency helicopter that crashed Wednesday night. He was treated for hypothermia, a broken ankle and chemical burns from aviation fuel.

The wreckage of the medical helicopter was ″just propped in the rocks″ on a nearly vertical cliff about 8,200 feet up the snow-covered 10,700-foot mountain, Fletcher said.

Carmona and Velardi dangled in a harness 75 feet below the rescue helicopter during a one-mile ride to a safe landing site. Price stayed behind to help remove the dead.

The medical helicopter crashed en route from Tucson to Safford to pick up a patient. The victims were the pilot and a flight nurse.

Fletcher had said initially that Price had leaped from the helicopter and had flown out with Velardi, but later corrected himself.

Bad weather that also hampered initial search efforts may have contributed to the crash, Graham County Sheriff Richard Mack said.

Velardi was listed in critical but stable condition at Tucson Medical Center.

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