In March of this year, Inyo Search and Rescue, along with the Military and bystanders, helped rescue a severely injured man who had taken a long fall down the ice on the Mountaineers route at Mt. Whitney.
Now three months later, Walnut Creek Resident Sang Nam, the man who suffered major head injuries in that accident, has called KSRW wishing to thank those who helped save his life.
On Sunday March 28, Inyo SAR volunteers flew into Iceberg Lake to try to reach the 58 year old who had fallen 1000 feet down the ice. Along with two other bystanders, the SAR volunteers worked to lower the victim from an elevation of 13,000 feet down to a safe helicopter landing zone, but night caught the rescuers, and the helicopter assigned to the rescue wasnt equipped to fly after dark.
Fearing that Sang Nam would not survive the night due to serious head injuries, Inyo Sheriff Deputies worked to find a helicopter capable to fly into the mountains at night. At about 1:30 in the morning, the rescuers were relieved when a Marine Corp CH-53 helicopter training at Edwards Airbase was able to fly the victim and the rescuers to Lone Pine.
After that tense rescue, Sang Nam was in a coma for close to two weeks. He was released from the hospital April 27, and has been slowly recovering ever since. When Nam called our station, he told us that he has not yet returned to work as a civil engineer. He still requires some speech therapy and has problems with short term memory.
While he also does not have memories of his rescue off Mt. Whitney, now that he is awake he wants to remember the people who saved his life.
Sang Nam says that his rescuers, the SAR volunteers, the Inyo Sheriffs Department, the bystanders who pitched in, and the Marines, gave him a second life. How does a person thank these people, he asked, its too big for thanks.
Sang Nam says that when he is allowed to drive again, he and his wife plan to drive to Bishop to thank everyone who helped.
Asked whether or not he will climb again, Sang Nam says that he would like to. His wife, who received the phone call from the Inyo Sheriffs department on that night in March, may not let him, he says.