CBP helicopter crew spots, rescues badly injured migrant

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Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2014 4:20 pm | Updated: 4:24 pm, Tue Mar 11, 2014.

Federal officers used a helicopter to hoist an undocumented border-crosser to safety after he fell approximately 100 to 150 feet from a mountaintop in southwestern Santa Cruz County.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, one of its Office of Air and Marine A-Star helicopter crews was conducting routine border enforcement operations at approximately 8:45 p.m. Monday when crewmembers spotted what appeared to be a flicker of light on the west side of Mule Ridge near Ruby.

The flicker turned out to be a signal for help from the injured man.

Due to the ruggedness of the terrain, the A-Star pilot called for a Blackhawk helicopter crew to assist with the rescue attempt. Upon arrival, an EMT-trained agent was lowered from the Blackhawk to the victim using the external rescue hoist system installed on OAM’s newest “Lima model” UH-60 Blackhawk.

“The agent reported that subject had possible internal bleeding, difficulty breathing, was coughing blood, had a severely fractured ankle and lacerations to face and back,” CBP said.

After stabilizing the patient, agents hoisted him into the Blackhawk and transported him to an awaiting ambulance.

Ambulance personnel determined the man would need to be quickly evacuated to Tucson via Life Flight helicopter. By 11:10 p.m., the ambulance crew had handed him over to the Life Flight team for transport to a Tucson-area hospital.

CBP did not release the man's name, age or nationality.