Rescuers set up their vehicles and equipment at the Quechee Welcome Center on Saturday, to respond to an injury in the woods by the Gorge.
(Eric Francis Photo)
By Eric Francis, Standard Correspondent
HARTFORD – Two incidents on Saturday had emergency teams hiking into the woods on back-to-back rescue efforts.
In Pomfret, a hunter was seriously injured in a fall and eventually had to be airlifted to the hospital from Clifford Park in West Hartford by the DHART medical helicopter at around 2 p.m.
Hartford Fire Chief Scott Cooney had just declared that operation over when the call came in for a man down in the woods off a hiking trail near the base of the Quechee Gorge.
A half-dozen emergency vehicles that were packing up at Clifford Park headed out on the Quechee-West Hartford Road to the Welcome Center at the Gorge and began an hour-long effort to extricate local resident Tim Porter from the Quechee State Park.
“Man, they were fast,” Lynn Porter recalled Monday after her husband, Tim Porter, who is a Hartford High School football coach, had returned home over the weekend on crutches with a knee brace. “We were scared to death because it was starting to get cold.”
The pair had been walking their dog through the trails behind the Quechee State Campground when the mishap occurred.
“We were going down the Switchback Trail, which is a pretty steep hill, when he slipped on a pile of leaves and fell right down and heard a ‘pop’ and he’s a football coach so he knows what these injuries are like and he knew that he probably tore something,” Lynn explained.
“He literally couldn’t move and so I had to help him get up and then we didn’t know which way to go. We couldn’t go back uphill but we were in the middle of a steep trail and I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to get him out of there.”
“We were really truly in the middle of the woods where no one normally walks and neither of us had cellphones, which was silly, and we were very lucky and very thankful because another couple happened to be walking toward us and had their cellphones. I was thinking that I was going to have to leave him and take off for the visitor’s center to get help.”
Instead, the other couple ended up going back to the visitor’s center at the Gorge and then guiding rescuers back down to the Porters.
Hartford firefighters ended up putting Tim Porter, a former Hanover High assistant coach who has served for the past five years as Hartford High’s Offensive and Defensive Line Coach, into a rescue basket with a single “big wheel” underneath it and trundling him out through the woods to the large trail that runs from the Route 4 Bridge down to the base of the Gorge.
“It was quite a process,” Lynn Porter recalled, “The firemen were really an amazing team. It took six guys to get him over tree roots and down the hill to their dune buggy.”
Firefighters loaded Porter into the back of their Gator all-terrain vehicle and drove him back up to the parking lot at the gift shop where he was transferred to a waiting Hartford Ambulance.
“Tim is home but we’re still not sure what he hurt,” Lynn said, adding, “He hasn’t fractured anything but it could be either a very bad sprain or a torn ACL or something like that. He’s supposed to have an orthopedic appointment soon.”
This article was first published in the November 22, 2017 edition of the Vermont Standard.