Couple's Engagement Has Rocky Start

Woman falls after proposal along jagged cliffs

By Jim Iovino and Michael Flynn
|  Tuesday, Sep 8, 2009  |  Updated 1:49 AM EDT
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A woman is rescued from the Billy Goat Trail.

A woman is rescued from the Billy Goat Trail.

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Marriage Proposal Ends With Chopper Rescue

A marriage proposal on the Billy Goat Trail ends with a helicopter rescue.
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Happily ever after got off to a rocky start for one couple Sunday on a D.C.-area hiking trail. What began as a romantic hike in Great Falls, Md., ended with a helicopter rescue.

A woman was hiking on the Billy Goat Trail with her boyfriend and her son when the boyfriend popped the question. She said yes to the marriage proposal, but just moments later she slipped and fell about 5 feet, landing on her chest. She started having trouble breathing and needed help.

Billy Goat steward Tom Sweeting was the first to respond, said C&O Canal Bike Patrol coordinator Steve DeLenoy. Sweeting contacted Trisha Fitzgerald, an EMT with the bike patrol, and the woman was stabilized while rescuers from Cabin John made their way to the scene.

Rescuers arrived by boat but had to scale more than 100 feet up a rocky cliff to get to her. Because of fears of possible back and neck injuries, they decided that she should be airlifted out.

Sgt. Chris Perkins, a U.S. Park Police rescue technician, guided the metal basket holding the woman into the chopper.

"I asked how she was doing and she said she was terrified on the way up, but she was able to give me some smiles and said she was greatly relieved to be inside the aircraft," Perkins said.

Officials said the woman's injuries are not life-threatening. And her husband-to-be has already impressed the rescue teams.

"It was an opportune time for her fiance to show how much he cared," Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Derrell Walker said. "Even though we provided medical care, he comforted her by giving her a kiss before she went up in the helicopter."

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