Rescuers help sick woman in Chicago Basin

A crew helped rescue a 59-year-old Minnesota woman who became sick at Ruby Lake while backpacking in Chicago Basin, the third rescue done in that area in a week and a half.

Dan Bender, spokesman with the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, said Lori Johnson, from Brooklyn Park, Minn., got sick Tuesday, but she and her husband, who are both nurses, determined her illness was not life-threatening.

The La Plata County Sheriff’s Office received the call for help from the couple at 5 p.m. Tuesday, and Bender said the couple’s medical background helped rescuers decide to delay an attempt to reach them until daylight Wednesday.

Johnson and her husband were backpacking with their two adult children, but Bender did not have names of the other members of the party Wednesday evening.

The party was told to “hunker down for the night” because of expected rain and lightning storms, Bender said. The weather proved problematic. Wednesday morning, the party had to chip away at ice before beginning a hike to meet a rescue party, Bender said.

“They were pummeled with rain and lightning overnight, and then they had to deal with ice,” he said, adding the party was camped at about 12,500 feet.

Johnson and her husband met three members of the La Plata County Mounted Patrol about 11 a.m. Wednesday at Dollar Lake. The woman was well enough to ride a horse, and she was brought out of the basin about 2 p.m. Wednesday, Bender said.

Johnson sought medical attention in Durango, but Bender was unsure where she went.

“Our local search-and-rescue teams have been very busy the past couple of weeks. We’ve been involved in seven missions in a little over a week, and all of our people are volunteers, giving of their own resources and time,” Bender said.

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