Dog Protects Injured Mountaineer on Velebit’s Vaganski Vrh, HGSS Saves the Day

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Fortunately, two friends were with the injured mountaineer, who immediately called for help and were in contact with the rescuers at all times, report 24 Sata

The head of the HGSS Gospić, Josip Brozičević, states that the mountaineers were experienced and had all the necessary equipment, but a combination of unfortunate circumstances led to this accident.

“The mountaineers climbed the Velebit hiking trail to Vaganski vrh. When descending, the dog was afraid to cross the icy surface. Its owner received it to pass it on. The moment he wanted to lower him to the ground, the dog began to slide on the icy ground. He was on a leash and tied to the owner, and as he slipped into the pit, he dragged his owner behind him,” said Brozičević.

HGSS members received a report at 6:30 pm, and 27 rescuers from Gospić, Zadar, Split, and Istria reached the injured mountaineer and dog that had been in the pit for five hours. Unfortunately, the action on the inaccessible terrain, on the highest peak of Velebit, was hampered by snow and ice, and landslides and broken trees blocked the trails.

“The dog was curled up next to the owner in the pit the entire time; he warmed his owner with his body, thus preventing the mountaineer’s significant hypothermia who suffered a severe fracture of the lower leg and ankle when he fell. In addition, he looked quite sober mentally and physically,” stated Brozičević.

After rescuers pulled the victim and the dog out of the pit, the hypothermic mountaineer was first warmed, and his injured leg immobilized. His dog North, who passed without injuries, did not want to be separated from the owner for even a moment. Instead, he curled up on him while on a stretcher, while rescuers lowered him from the mountain on steep and icy terrain Transportation began at 0:20.

“When we started with the transport, we saw that it would not be possible to transport the victim and the dog together. Since the dog was unharmed, he was taken over by one of the rescuers, but even then, he was near the owner,” said Brozičević.

After more than seven hours of transport, the injured mountaineer was taken to the ambulance, to the Gospić General Hospital, and then to the Zadar Hospital, where he underwent surgery.

HGSS members warn that hiking is dangerous in winter conditions, regardless of how experienced the mountaineer is and how well they prepare for the route. This accident has shown that only one wrong step is enough, after which there is no going back. Vaganski vrh is visited almost daily by mountaineers. The only exception is when the most severe winter conditions prevail on the mountain.

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