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Tragedy was narrowly averted this week when a 74-year-old woman hiking at Piestewa Peak in Phoenix slipped and fell—injuring her head and face. Rescuers were able to get to the woman in time, airlifting her off into a stretcher hoisted onto a helicopter. But unfortunately, the rescue basket began spinning out of control.
On one hand, this all sounds very scary and sad for the poor woman at the center of this mishap. On the other hand, allow us to present you with the video footage of this rescue gone awry.
Lest anyone feel like a terrible person for laughing, there are two things we’d like to point out.
WILD HELICOPTER RESCUE: Firefighters say a 74-year-old woman had to be flown off of Piestewa Peak this morning after she suffered an injury while hiking.— FOX 10 Phoenix (@FOX10Phoenix) June 4, 2019
STORY: https://t.co/H4HavJnsgn pic.twitter.com/2FPQR0qiZ9
For one thing, she’s just fine. Phoenix Fire Department officials said the woman was treated for dizziness and nausea but otherwise suffered no further injuries as a result of the spinning.
The second thing is that you certainly wouldn’t be alone because as the video began spreading like wildfire late Tuesday, people on Twitter began retweeting the video and the jokes were coming in hard and fast.
I see a lot of people laughing at this but it’s not funny - as a helicopter expert I can tell that this is a fear response, a helicopter only does this when it perceives a threat https://t.co/PfzbfwNo3v— pixelatedboat aka “mr tweets” (@pixelatedboat) June 5, 2019
Got granny looking like a Beyblade https://t.co/VqAwp5coMp— Khadi Don (@KhadiDon) June 5, 2019
a lot of people acting like they've never seen a helicopter rescue team centrifuge the rattlesnake venom right out of an old lady's body with the only tools they have available— thomas violence (@thomas_violence) June 4, 2019
i am wheezing oh my god https://t.co/1LJQW1OS6t— Trey Smith (@SlimiHendrix) June 4, 2019
Am now imagining another helicopter coming to rescue that helicopter spinning both it and the already-spinning woman https://t.co/idtE3jIdKg— Jess Dweck (@TheDweck) June 5, 2019
Woah... They spun that old woman around like someone untangling their yo-yo. https://t.co/rf2zhCkMCQ— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) June 4, 2019
A couple of people also had the same idea about the woman’s wherewithal to survive the wild ride:
“[S]end her to space,” animator and voice actor Mick Lauer wrote. “She’s more ready and capable than most humans.”
I really hope this poor old lady survived this ‘rescue’... also, if she did, send her to space. She’s more ready and capable than most humans. https://t.co/4insGrMXfg— Mick (@RicepirateMick) June 5, 2019
The rescue was a bit of an anomaly. Paul Apolinar, the chief pilot of the police department’s aviation unit, told ABC 15 News that a second line to prevent exactly this scenario from happening broke, causing the stretcher to spin out of control. As a result, the closer the basket got to the rotors only accelerated the rate of rotation.
The crew reportedly attempted to raise and lower the basket several times, but the spinning went on for about 40 seconds.
“[The potential for the basket to spin] is something that’s a known phenomenon in the hoist rescue industry,” he continued. “In the last six years, we’ve used a hoist 210 times on mountain rescues. In that time, we know of [a similar situation] happening twice.”
It’s unclear when the other isolated incident happened or if that person was OK, but on the bright side, this poor woman’s terror brought the internet together—if for just a brief, shining moment.
Helicopter spin grandma is what the internet was like before trump— Cullen (@HelloCullen) June 5, 2019
still thinking about that helicopter spinning that old lady like the Tasmanian devil— Trey Smith (@SlimiHendrix) June 5, 2019
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Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.