Box, Wednesday, May 25?

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Box, Wednesday, May 25?

Post by lewsmith » Tue May 24, 2011 1:13 pm

Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 25, looks like it might work at Box. I am interested in a glassoff flight. Anyone else interested?

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Post by SorenTheStorm » Tue May 24, 2011 1:24 pm

Lew, I'll be camping and flying out at box both tomorrow and Thursday. Hopefully I'll see you there.


Post by Guido » Wed May 25, 2011 8:21 am

I might join you later. Cannot leave work before 3.30 p.m.

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Post by lewsmith » Wed May 25, 2011 9:00 am

The morning forecast is a bit strong - 13 mph earlier, picking up to 15 mph at 5 to 7 PM at the surface, but the wind aloft is supposed to be 12 mph at 6,000 and 9 mph at 9000. I am going to hike to the top and give it a try.

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Box report

Post by amiller » Thu May 26, 2011 9:05 am

Soran, Aaron Stutz. & Guido flew. Lew had an accident at launch and was air lifted out around midnight to UMC. He had a bad launch and both Aaron and Soran top landed to help him.

I just talk to Lew's wife and she told me that he has a dislocated hip, a couple of shattered bones and some scalp laceration. No internal damage and he seemed to be in good sprits.

That’s the update I have for now.

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Re: Box Report

Post by jlowery » Thu May 26, 2011 10:17 am

Damn, I'm sorry to hear about Lew's accident. Glad to hear he's doing ok at the hospital.

Get well soon, Lew!

Out of curiosity, did paramedics have to stretcher him to the LZ for extraction? Midnight seems like an awfully long wait.


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Post by amiller » Thu May 26, 2011 10:33 am

The helicopter landed on the upper launch. What I think took so long was getting everything in motion once the accident happened and getting the ground crew in to their location.

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Post by John Wolfe » Thu May 26, 2011 11:06 am

Thanks to everyone involved in the rescue effort last night: I know that Gunter, Guido, Andy, Soren, and Aaron Stutz were all instrumental.

I will start a separate thread in the member's only section so that we can discuss ways of improving the response time for future incidents.

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Post by flydoc » Thu May 26, 2011 5:29 pm

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.


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Post by amiller » Thu May 26, 2011 6:17 pm

Thank you Aaron for the full story.

Lew's battery was missing out of his radio. Next time anyone goes up to the upper launch, take a look around and see if you can find it.

Lew is scheduled for hip surgery tomorrow around 11 o'clock.

Get well soon Lew.


Post by Guido » Fri May 27, 2011 8:24 am

I have put my report in the "members only" section.

Get well soon and all the best Lew!


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Post by aaroncromer » Fri May 27, 2011 8:44 am

i at the i time was on a date with my wife when aaron called me, asking to give sara (search and rescue) more data as to access to the launch (i volunteer with SARA). shortly after that i got the page out and a call from john another sara person asking for directions. i was unable to attend the call and wasn't much help with directions due to that's the one site i haven't flown in so az. i did go on to the sahga web site and forwarded the directions from there. which i don't think were much help because the sara teams were coming from hwy 83. thanks to andy they were able to find there way in much quicker.

i will post this in the members only section also but it would be nice to get better direction for this site in order to speed up rescue efforts. things went fairly smoothy and the time frame was typical for a rescue like this. they do need to get ground crews in to asses the scene. sometime during the day they do get help by getting flown in if conditions and exact location are known.

i am soooo sorry to hear about lew. i hope you get well soon.

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Post by Scott » Fri May 27, 2011 12:06 pm

This news is terribly upsetting. You have to love Lew for his enthusiasm and his joie de vivre. I'm thankful he is alive and hope he makes a full recovery. Thank you Aaron and Soren for top landing and everyone else for coordinating the rescue.

There is a lot of history that makes this accident especially upsetting. I wrote a similar accident report 13 years ago: ... t-box.html

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