Derek Geisel, a pilot in Phoenix, Arizona, was flying the helicopter that rushed to rescue a hiker who had been injured on Piestewa Peak on June 4, 2019.
The video of the rescue has gone viral because the basket used to lift the hiker was spinning wildly. The hiker, identified as a woman in her mid-70s, was lifted into the helicopter and reportedly did not suffer any lasting injuries from the spinning.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Officials: The Rescue Team Was Called Out to the Mountain After the Hiker Fell & Suffered a Head Injury
Emergency responders were called out to Piestewa Peak in Phoenix, Arizona, to rescue a woman who had fallen while hiking.
Phoenix Fire Captain Bobby Dubnow explained in a news conference that the woman, believed to be 74 or 75 years old, had suffered facial and head injuries during the hike. He said that the woman felt dizzy and struggled to walk any further, which prompted the rescue.
Captain Dubnow added that rescue crews made the decision to bring her off the mountain in a helicopter in order to get her to a hospital more quickly, citing that a ground rescue would have taken far longer due to the terrain.
2. Geisel: The Line Attached to the Basket That Was Supposed to Prevent Spinning Had Broken
Derek Geisel and the lead pilot of the Phoenix Police air unit, Paul Apolinar, stated during a news conference on June 4 that the spinning of the rescue basket was a rare situation. Local ABC affiliate KNXV-TV streamed the news conference on Facebook.
Geisel explained that there is a line attached to the basket that is supposed to keep it under control as the patient is lifted into the aircraft. Geisel said the line appeared to have broken. He said the crew attempted to alleviate the spinning by bringing the basket back down, but that it would speed back up again as the basket was lifted. Geisel added that the helicopter transported the hiker to additional medical responders located about half a mile away.
Apolinar further explained that the hoist has been used approximately 210 times over the past six years. He said this is only the second time the line has broken in that time period.
3. The Hiker Reportedly Did Not Suffer Additional Injuries Due to the Spinning
The hiker, whose name was not released, was taken to a hospital and was reportedly doing fine. Captain Bobby Dubnow explained during the press conference that patients are securely packaged into the rescue basket, meaning that she would not have been shifting inside the basket as it spun. Dubnow said that she was treated for dizziness and nausea due to the spin but otherwise did not suffer additional injuries.
4. Derek Geisel Has Been Licensed as a Commercial Pilot Since 2015, According to the Federal Aviation Administration
Derek Geisel’s current license with the Federal Aviation Administration was issued on May 22, 2015, according to public records.
His profile on the FAA website states that Geisel is licensed to fly helicopters and single-engine planes. the profile includes that he wears contact lenses. An online search of records indicates that Geisel is also a licensed flight instructor.
5. Derek Geisel Lives in the Phoenix Area
Derek Geisel, 48, lives in the Phoenix area. His wife, Sonya Geisel, taught at Arizona State University, according to her Linkedin profile. They appear to have two children, based on her Facebook page.