Portland ANG Base, OR
30 May 2002
An HH-60G Pave Hawk of the 304th Rescue Sq., 939th Rescue Wg., Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland, OR. crewed by Capt. Grant Dysle (P), Capt. Chris Bernard (CP), Martin Mills (FE), Andrew Canfield (PJ), unkn (PJ) and unkn (PJ) crashes on Mt. Hood while attempting a rescue three critically injured climbers who had fallen into a crevasse.
While trying to maneuver to land on the 45 degree slop of the mountain, while in a hover the wind shifted suddenly and the main rotor blades impacted the steeply sloping terrain. The helicopter began to roll side over and side down the mountain slope. The helicopter rolled seven and one half times before coming to rest inverted, approximately 200 feet below the site of impact. The seven man crew egressed safely with non-life threatening injuries. the HH-60G sustained $4,750,385.00 in damages. This accident was video taped by a orbiting news helicopter and shown on network TV news shows.
Grant Dysle talked publicly for the first time to the press about the 2002 accident in a 2012 interview by KGW-TV, Portland. See and read the interview at this link.
~Air Force crew re-lives 2002 Mount Hood helicopter crash~
GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. – May 30th, 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of one of the worst climbing and rescue disasters ever on Mt. Hood.
Three climbers died that day on Mt. Hood. But the toll could have been even higher. While trying to perform a high-altitude rescue the climbers, an Air Force Pave Hawk helicopter fell from the sky and tumbled one thousand feet down the side of the mountain, ejecting its crew and sending parts flying as it rolled over and over.
Does not seem like it’s been ten years, said Major Chris Bernard who was aboard and Air Force reserve helicopter that flew in to help after the disaster. It’s something he’ll never forget.
It’s one of those memorable events that seem like yesterday, Major Bernard said.
It began around 9 a.m. when a 911 call came in from the mountain. Nine climbers had fallen into a deep crevasse. Three were dead. The included William Ward and Richard Read from Forest Grove along with John Biggs from Windsor, California. Four others were critically injured and needed to be airlifted if possible.
Rescue teams on the ground raced toward the mountain and made their way to the fallen climbers. Other climbers already on the mountain stopped to help as well.
Shortly after noon and Oregon Army National Guard helicopter arrived and lifted the first two patients off the mountain.
Just before 2 p.m., and Air Force Pave Hawk helicopter carrying a para-rescue crew called PJ’s flew up to the crevasse and prepared to lift the third patient. Suddenly, as it hovered above the crevasse, the wind shifted from the front of the helicopter to the back. Pilot Grant Dysle had no extra power and was only able to fly away from the climbers before crashing on the mountain.
Flight engineer Martin Mills cut the hoist cable connected from the helicopter to the injured climber, Jeremiah Moffitt. The move saved Moffitts’s life.
News channel 8 carried the rescue effort live and broadcast the crash as it happened. The Pave Hawk rolled 8 times down the mountain tossing two from the crew inside. PJ Andrew Canfield was thrown out an open door.
When I got ejected from the helicopter I felt like ‘oh thank God I’m free of the helicopter, I’m gonna be okay.’ And then, just an instant after that I realized that I was downhill from the helicopter and it was overtaking me, Canfield said.
The helicopter rolled over the top of Canfield, but the unusually soft snow allowed him to sink under it without being crushed.
Mill, the engineer, was strapped by his safety tether to the outside of the helicopter as it rolled. He was rolled over at least twice before the tether broke.
Incredibly, no one died as a result of the crash. Later, the second Pave Hawk airlifted the injured Air Force crew off the mountain. Two Oregon National Guard helicopters lifted off the remaining two injured climbers.
Two of the three bodies of the climbers were recovered that day. The third was taken down the mountain the next day.