By 1st Lt. Jason Gabrick
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Two Schriever captains came to the rescue when a woman suffered a broken ankle while hiking in the Rocky Mountain foothills Aug. 10.
Capt. Skylar Streetman, 50th Space Wing assistant staff judge advocate, and Capt. Dustin O’Donnell, 2nd Space Operations Squadron payload system operator, had no idea they would aid in a massive rescue effort when they set out to hike to the 9,690-foot summit of El Paso County’s St. Peter’s Dome.
After hiking nearly a half mile toward the summit, Streetman and O’Donnell began to encounter abnormally rugged terrain for the area.
“We had to start scrambling over rocks where it looked like the trail had washed away,” said O’Donnell.
With the recent rainfall and flash flooding in El Paso County, an otherwise smooth trail became difficult to navigate.
“That day it was completely washed out. A lot of the boulders had come down,” said Streetman. “We had to hunt around just to find the trail.”
Streetman and O’Donnell came upon a family after navigating the harsh terrain for almost a mile.
“We were climbing over some boulders when we saw a family off in the distance,” said O’Donnell.
The family, who did not wish to be named, wasn’t moving and appeared to be standing close together. As Streetman and O’Donnell got closer, they realized something was wrong.
“The father shouted over to us and asked if we wanted to help,” said O’Donnell. “His wife had her arm around him and looked a bit roughed up. We scrambled across the boulders to get over to them. Once we got closer, we could see the father had already put a splint on his wife’s ankle. That’s when we found out that she had fallen and broken her ankle.”
The father had been trying to carry his wife down the trail when the family crossed paths with Streetman and O’Donnell.
“I was surprised he got his wife as far as he did,” said Streetman. “He looked very tired when we came across them and they weren’t even through the boulders. I kept asking if they had called anyone, and they kept insisting there was no cell service. So, I checked my phone, and I had roaming, but only a couple of bars. The only way I could get a clear call was to sit on an over crop of boulders and lean out over the openness.”
Streetman got a hold of the Colorado Springs Police Department first, who transferred her to the El Paso County Sheriff’s office.
“Unfortunately, I shifted my weight and lost the call,” said Streetman. “So, I had to start all over.”
Streetman successfully reached the officials and guided a rescue team to their location.
“I vaguely remembered a couple of the stables and mountain bed and breakfasts we passed on the climb up. I’m still a little surprised they made it,” said Streetman.
Streetman said she’s normally horrible with directions. So, her ability to accurately guide a rescue team to their location has now made her top 10 list of accomplishments.
“The father asked what we did. Dustin replied he was an operator, and that I was a military JAG,” said Streetman. “To which he laughed and said ‘great, a lawyer, don’t worry, we have a lawyer.’”
Streetman recalls everyone, even the injured woman, laughing.
“We finally got her to a smooth part of the trail where we could make some real progress but at that point, it was becoming too much for her,” said O’Donnell. “Every single shake or movement of her leg had her wincing in pain.”
The injured woman was beginning to go into shock so the group decided to stop there. Streetman and the children made their way to the parking area to get the attention of the rescue teams. After staying with them for a few more minutes, O’Donnell decided to jog back to the trailhead as well.
“When I got there, the cops and the search and rescue team were all there,” said O’Donnell. “I took point and led them to the victim as fast as I could.”
Streetman and O’Donnell even helped the rescue team carry some of their gear. O’Donnell carried the front half of the litter while Streetman carried up an oxygen tank to help lighten the rescue team’s load.
When O’Donnell, Streetman and the rescue team reached the injured woman, it was apparent she was in shock.
“She was cold and shaking. Her skin was gray and her husband was trying to hold onto her to keep her warm,” said O’Donnell.
The rescue team, with help from the father, O’Donnell and Streetman, began getting the injured woman ready for transport.
“The father and I zipped her up in what was essentially a mummy-style sleeping bag and she said she immediately felt better,” said O’Donnell. “Her shaking stopped and there was a visible improvement in her comfort level.”
While they were zipping her up, they heard via the rescue team’s radios that a severe storm was 30 minutes out with hail and heavy rain expected. The group could also hear thunder.
“We all started to move as quickly as possible at that point,” said O’Donnell. “As we were loading her onto the litter, more search and rescue folks arrived.”
A paramedic administered pain medication and the group made its way down what was left of the trail.
On the way down the mountain, Streetman took photos of the rescue effort.
“They looked like Snow White’s seven dwarves, wheeling her down on the litter,” said O’Donnell.
As the group made it to the bottom of the trail, the sound of thunder overhead got louder and it began to rain.
“Once we got back to the trailhead, they loaded her into the ambulance quite quickly and then we all took off quick because the weather was getting progressively worse,” said O’Donnell.
Streetman and O’Donnell didn’t make it to the summit of St. Peter’s Dome that day, but were both pleased to help.
“I am very glad that we were able to be there and help them,” said O’Donnell. “There was nobody else out there. Her husband wouldn’t have been able to get her as far we did on his own and it was nearing the end of the day, and they didn’t have cell phone service.”
Streetman echoed O’Donnell’s sentiments.
“I think they were lucky we came across them,” said Streetman. “And, we were glad to be able to help.”