CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A Wyoming Army National Guard helicopter crew, working alongside local first responders, completed a challenging 24-hour rescue mission of an injured climber.
The harrowing incident unfolded at Box Elder Canyon in Converse County, where Ray Daugherty and DJ Gonzales found themselves in a dangerous situation. While ascending the canyon the evening of Aug. 14, Daugherty lost his grip and plummeted approximately 12 feet onto a rock. He extracted himself from a pool of water, but his arm was severely damaged.
Gonzales left Daugherty, climbing out of the canyon to alert authorities.
Responders included the Converse County Sheriff's Office and Search and Rescue, Glenrock Volunteer Fire Department, Glenrock EMS, and the Wyoming Army National Guard. They collaborated and located Daugherty in the early morning, nearly eight hours after the ordeal began.
Daugherty's injuries were not deemed life-threatening, but the Guard members determined a helicopter lift was necessary. For safety, the medical evacuation was postponed until dawn.
As the sun rose Aug. 15, a team of skilled Guardsmen executed an aerial evacuation, airlifting Daugherty to a designated staging area. He was transferred to a Glenrock ambulance and taken to a hospital in Casper, where his elbow was reconstructed during a six-hour surgery.
While a first responder ascended from the canyon, they discovered another person in distress. The Wyoming Army National Guard conducted an expedited airlift of the second patient from the canyon, ensuring timely access to medical care at a hospital in Casper.