Anchorage teen airlifted after rafting injury

An injured Anchorage teenager rafting with his father on the Gulkana River Monday was rescued by Alaska Air National Guard crews after a canoe group activated an emergency beacon for help.

Kraig Hammond, 17, and his father were rafting from Paxson Lake to Sourdough Campground when he hurt his leg, according to Alaska State Troopers. The canoe group spotted the teen on the side of the river and went to check on him.

State troopers received an SOS just before 6 p.m. They were unable to access the area by boat or four wheeler, so airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons responded.

"We called the Alaska State Troopers to find out if they had also seen the notifications from the Gulkana River," Master Sgt. Armando Soria, a search and rescue controller with the 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, said in a prepared statement. "They confirmed the distress signals but were unable to support the rescue because of the unknown terrain and medical condition of the victim."

Utilizing a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Squadron and a HC-130 King aircraft from the 211th Squadron, with Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron onboard both aircraft, rescuers launched from JBER enroute to the location of the injured teen.

"We saw the group waving their oars in the air, letting us know that we were at the right location," said Capt. Gary Weir, 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130 King pilot and mission commander, in a press release.

They hoisted the teen and his father into the helicopter and took him to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

By Anchorage Daily News/