Well, yesterday was an exciting day at Box, and here is my eyewitness account: Soren and I hiked to the top launch and were there at around noon, and it was very gusty so we chatted and napped a little at the top. Lew showed up a few hours later and we chatted and napped some more. We could see Guido's car at the LZ and knew that he had probably stopped at the lower launch. After some more parawaiting, the conditions started to look favorable and we saw Guido take off and immediately begin ascending. I took off around 6pm and Soren shortly thereafter. We flew for about an hour, checking in occasionally at the launch area to monitor Lew's progress. Soren and I had just come back from an excursion over the hills to the north of Box, and I looked down and noticed that Lew was lying on the ground looking up at us, and his wing was a bit askew on the ground above him.
Foolishly, I briefly thought that Lew had gotten fatigued and decided to take a rest. Soren was several hundred feet below me, however, and he called up to me and gave me two thumbs down and pointed at Lew. We both did some fairly aggressive altitude-losing maneuvers and top landed, then ran over to check on him.
Lew was a bit dazed, but alert and oriented, and complaining of R hip pain. He had a couple of lacerations over his right eyebrow and his helmet was full of blood. After a quick assessment, we felt that his femur was not grossly fractured, but that he may have had a hip dislocation or other small fractures that we couldn't immediately detect. We helped him to the top of the launch after making ourselves reasonably sure that he didn't have any neck or back injuries.
We felt that Lew was stable and out of immediate danger, but given the amount of pain he appeared to be in, and how difficult we felt it would be to extract him by ourselves, we decided to call the search and rescue team via 911. This turned out to be more difficult than expected, because neither me nor Soren had phones, and Lew's phone had very spotty reception. After an hour of repeat phone calls to 911 and various contacts in the Tucson community, we received a text message from the search and rescue team, and I called them and gave them rough directions to our location.
After the sun went down, Lew got cold and we wrapped him in his glider to keep him warm, which worked quite well. He continued to do well and we checked in on him occasionally while we packed up the gliders, phoned everyone and anyone that we could think of. It appeared at first that Lew would be evacuated by ground transport, and we could see a line of vehicles driving up the backside of Box. At about 11:30, we heard a helicopter and contacted the SAR team who instructed us to shine our headlamps at the helicopter. We started to clear a landing zone as well by moving our gliders and anything that appeared to be in the way. The chopper landed right in front of us, which was no small feat by the pilot and was an impressive display of helicopter-piloting finesse, as it was balanced on several small rocks. This didn't stop me from being afraid of the thing, though, as it was about 10 feet away and Soren and I were huddled around Lew getting showered with rocks and other debris.
The ground SAR team showed up with Andy Miller, and we packaged Lew and they took off. Then we hiked back to the road and Andy drove us around to the front of launch so I could drive Lew's truck back to Tucson.
All things considered, I would have expected an extraction time of about 5 hours even with perfect cellphone reception, so I think the evacuation went fairly well.