Few visitors to Acadia National Park have an experience like the one Xavier Morin did last fall and live to tell the tale.
Fewer still make the effort of publicly thanking the people who saved their lives.
At around midday on Oct. 8, Morin was hiking by himself on the Precipice Trail, one of the most dangerous in the park, when he ventured off the trail and then fell 60 feet and landed on a ledge. The incident soon was reported to park rangers, setting in motion a mobilization and rescue effort that took nine hours to complete. Acadia National Park rangers, volunteers with Mount Desert Island Search & Rescue, and members of the Coast Guard responded, rappelling to the ledge where Morin’s broken body had come to rest and tending to his injuries before plucking him from the sheer mountainside with a helicopter.
The 28 year-old resident of Quebec recently wrote a letter to MDISAR, thanking all the people who responded and saved his life. Morin gave the group permission to post his letter on its Facebook page, which it did on Thursday.
In the letter, which Morin wrote in part to encourage people to help financially support the nonprofit search and rescue group, Morin writes that he has almost fully recovered from the broken femur he suffered on his fall and the resulting surgery he had to repair the damage. He said it was ‘stupid’ for him to venture off the trail.
“I am very glad I survived the fall and was rescued because who would want to be remembered as the guy who died from falling off a cliff?,” Morin wrote.
He said that, aside from the lesson of not taking unnecessary risks, the experience reinforced how important it is to be prepared and properly equipped when venturing out into rugged terrain.
“In my case, a fully charged cell phone, a whistle, a first aid kit, an emergency blanket, and plenty of food and water for the day tucked in my daypack (which also saved me from a spine injury) made a difference,” Morin wrote. “But what made an even greater difference that day were the volunteers from the search and rescue teams. It made me realize how essential they are for our own safety and the safety of our loved ones.”
Morin thanked specific volunteers who rappelled down the cliff face to the ledge and others who visited him in the hospital in Bangor the following day. He also thanks by name all 18 people and several organizations that were directly involved in the rescue effort
“I know I might not have all your names but one thing is sure, I will never thank you enough!,” he wrote.
Video of Morin’s rescue could not be tracked down, but this video of another rescue in Acadia last year, when a New Jersey woman fell from a cliff near Thunder Hole, shows what skills are needed and what kind of challenges trained rescue volunteers and helicopter pilots (in this case, with LifeFlight) face in responding to medical emergencies in the park.