U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Dragan-Gosselin had to rappel into a canyon to help the man.

Akron Beacon Journal
GateHouse Media Ohio

A Navy aircrewman from Hartville helped rescue an 80-year-old man who got lost while snowshoeing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Nevada last week, the U.S. Navy says.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Dragan-Gosselin had to rappel into a canyon at Kingsbury Grade near Lake Tahoe on Jan. 7 to help the man because there was no safe landing site for the helicopter due to the steep, mountainous terrain and vegetation.

“I rappelled 10 feet away from him and immediately sank into waist-deep snow,” Dragan-Gosselin said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “He had been walking in that almost all night without sleeping.”

Once on the ground, Dragan-Gosselin performed a medical assessment of the survivor, who was not identified by the Navy, and prepared him to be hoisted before they were taken up into the aircraft together. The man was transported to the South Lake Tahoe Airport and turned over to paramedics.

It's unclear how the man got lost.

Dragan-Gosselin, a 2014 graduate of Marlington High School, is part of the four-member Longhorn Helicopter Search and Rescue team from Naval Air Station Fallon that responded to the scene.

The crew consisted of mission commander Lt. Cary Lawson, co-pilot Lt. Cmdr. Joshua Haggard, crew chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Jacob Glende and Dragan-Gosselin.

On the night of Jan. 6, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from the man who was lost and running out of daylight. He had only 1 percent battery left on his cellphone, but law enforcement was able to obtain a search area before the call was lost.

The Longhorn team responded at the request of the Sheriff's Office.

After making the 70-mile trip to the scene, the crew searched for an hour before spotting the survivor standing and waving his arms at the bottom of a canyon.

“What struck me most was how difficult it was to spot the survivor in that terrain and the fact that he spent the whole night in the snowstorm,” Glende said in a prepared statement.