Two neighbors who live on opposite sides of Beseck Mountain are being credited with helping emergency crews rescue two hikers who fell more than 50-feet from a cliff Friday night in Middlefield.
The hikers, 28-year-old Connor Mullen and 25-year-old Linda Klapatch, both of Wethersfield, were still recovering from their injuries on Sunday. Klapatch was listed in fair condition while Mullen remained in critical condition, according to Hartford Hospital spokesperson Rebecca Stewart.
The pair was hiking the blue trail on Beseck Mountain late Friday when something went terribly wrong.
"The girlfriend slipped and when the boyfriend went to grab her he also slipped and they went down the mountain," State Police Sgt. Sal Calvo said.
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Shortly after 9 p.m., Middlefield resident Clifford Birdsea was sitting on his porch near Black Pond when he began hearing Klapatch screaming for help, Calvo said. Birdsea made the initial call to 911 at 9:21 p.m.
When state police arrived, however, they were unable to decipher where the screams were coming from and decided to drive to the other side of the mountain.
That's where, according to Calvo, troopers Derek Smith and Larry Morello found Middlefield resident James Overly, who lives at the end of Kickapoo Road — an area that has been used as a staging area by emergency crews during similar mountain rescues in the past.
Overly told the troopers they could access the area where the hikers might be located through a new development off Levesque Road. The area was about a mile away through rough terrain so Overly offered to drive the troopers in his Jeep, Calvo said.
"At this point they got an immediate response from a female who was crying and screaming, 'Please help us. We are hurt,'" said Calvo. Mullen could also be heard about 50-feet away "moaning in pain," Calvo added.
After locating Klapatch's whereabouts, emergency crews including firefighters from Middlefield, Durham and Middletown, as well a state police helicopter, Life Star helicopter and ambulance crews were dispatched to the scene.
The state police helicopter was used to illuminate the area during the search for the hikers, Calvo said, while a rescue team prepared to rappel down the mountain to bring them to safety.
At about 1 a.m., crews reached Klapatch and she was airlifted to Hartford Hospital by Life Star helicopter. It took crews until about 3:30 to rescue Mullen. The extent of the pair's injuries is unknown, but Calvo said both suffered broken bones and scrapes and bruises.
The rescue efforts, which began with a neighbor hearing the screams for help and another leading police to the victims, lasted more than five hours.
"This was a time consuming rescue. Everybody's safety obviously is a concern here, not just the victims, but the people that are actually going to do the rescue," said Calvo. "The good samaritans played a big, big part in this. From the caller to the samaritan who took the troopers out to the road. I want to give credit where credit is due."