Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel prepare to load Juneau man Chuck Sidlinger into a rescue boat after he fell from a trail on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Meredith Trainor)

Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel prepare to load Juneau man Chuck Sidlinger into a rescue boat after he fell from a trail on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. (Courtesy photo | Meredith Trainor)

Juneau climber survives 30-foot fall

He was flown to Seattle for surgery for pelvic injuries

A Juneau climber suffered serious injuries after a long fall Wednesday, according to authorities and those who were on scene.

On Wednesday afternoon, Capital City Fire/Rescue responders were called to about 34-mile Glacier Highway to assist a man who had fallen about 30 feet, CCFR Assistant Chief Ed Quinto said on scene via phone. The man was identified to the Empire as Juneau resident Chuck Sidlinger, by close friend Meredith Trainor who arrived on scene shortly after the incident.

Sidlinger dislocated his pelvis in two places and fractured his sacrum, Trainor said, and he was flown to Seattle for surgery at Harborview Medical Center.

Sidlinger was one of a group of five climbers who went out to the area Wednesday — which is not a hiking trail but is a trail climbers often use to get to cliffs in the area — one of his companions Zach Rhoades said in a phone interview. They were walking out along a particularly steep part of the trail when Sidlinger (who was wearing proper shoes and equipment) lost his footing, Rhoades said.

“It was very, very quick,” Rhoades said. “He just slipped and started tumbling.”

It wasn’t a freefall for 30 feet, but Sidlinger landed hard on a rocky spot. He remained conscious through it and through the rescue, and was even able to sit up on his own, Rhoades said. It was a scary moment for the climbers, but they were relieved that his injuries weren’t more serious.

“I’m kind of dumbfounded in a lot of ways at the result,” Rhoades said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

CCFR responders were able to get Sidlinger safely out of the area. Responders loaded him onto a boat, took him to a nearby dock and transported him via the CCFR medical unit, according to a CCFR Facebook post.

As CCFR pointed out in a comment to the Facebook post, the area is outside CCFR’s service area (which ends at Cohen Drive) but the City and Borough of Juneau charter gives the fire department authority to do rescues throughout the borough.

Trainor said via email that the efficiency and professionalism of personnel from CCFR, Bartlett Regional Hospital and Airlift Northwest was “incredible to witness.”

“We all felt immensely grateful to be part of the Juneau community yesterday,” Trainor said. “Thank you to all of the responders.”

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