Petty Officer 2nd Class Mario Estevane is presented the Air Medal for rescuing a 28-year-old man who fell while free climbing in Acadia National park. The Air Medal was presented by Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, First Coast Guard District, and Rep. William Keating (D-MA-9). PHOTO COURTESY OF THE U.S. COAST GUARD.

Officer honored for Acadia rescue

BOSTON — Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Mario Estevane, an aviation survival technician from Air Station Cape Cod, received the Air Medal Monday for his heroic actions last fall on a 1,000-foot cliff face along the Precipice trail on Champlain Mountain in Acadia National Park.

On Oct. 8, 2016, a U.S. Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter aircrew from Air Station Cape Cod launched to rescue a 28-year-old male climber who fell approximately 50 feet.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter works to help rescue an injured climber on the cliffs known as the Precipice in Acadia National Park in 2016. ISLANDER PHOTO BY EARL BRECHLIN

When the aircrew arrived on scene, Estevane was hoisted down to discuss the extraction plan with the leader of the rescue team of park rangers and members of Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue on scene.

From the ground, Estevane radioed the aircrew, which was still in flight, to deliver the helicopter’s rescue litter to the face of the cliff. He then employed a nonstandard rescue technique, free climbing across the cliff face, while maneuvering the 45-pound litter over large boulders, down cliff ledges and around thick brush. He used rappelling equipment and ropes provided by the ground team to lower the litter 50 feet to a small ledge, where the helicopter crew could safely complete the hoist. Estevane then rappelled himself down to the ledge, where he met the ranger rescue team.

While clinging only to scrub brush in high winds and driving rain 700 feet above the valley floor, he helped transfer the patient into the litter, prepared him for the nighttime hoist, and once inside the helicopter, remained at his side through the flight.

Also recognized were Pilot Commander Steven F. Jensen and flight mechanic Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel J. Cote, who each received Coast Guard Commendation Medals. Co-pilot Lt. Michelle A. Simmons was presented the Coast Guard Achievement Medal.


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