FRANKLIN – Rescue crews used heavy equipment, including the Jaws of Life, to pull a badly injured driver from her car, which had left the road and gone 50 feet down an embankment early Monday night.
Authorities said the woman, whose name was not released, was driving a small sedan near 671 Hill Road when her car left the road and rolled into the woods below.
After being extricated, the driver was taken to a makeshift landing zone at the Hill Village Store, where she was loaded aboard a DHART helicopter and taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Hanover.
"The car sustained heavy damage, and she was trapped in the car," said Fire Department Capt. Bruce Goldthwaite. "It wasn't easy, the car was way down in the woods. It took us 46 minutes to extricate her."
Goldthwaite said the woman suffered serious injuries on her extremities, but her injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.
The rescue operation started at 5:52 p.m., after a Hill Road resident called for help, saying she heard a crash near her home. Emergency crews found the woman and the car, but there were no clues as to why her car left the road.
"There were no skid marks," he said.
They found the woman conscious and alert, Goldthwaite said. Rescue crews first had to stabilize the car, which was not stable, to safely extricate the patient.
Hydraulic extrication tools were used to cut the vehicle and extract the woman.
After freeing her from the car, they loaded her on a stokes basket. They then built a rope-hauling system to pull her basket up the steep embankment, he said.
At 7:11 p.m., she was loaded into the helicopter and it departed, he said.
Police said the accident is under investigation.
The driver was not wearing a seat belt, Goldthwaite said.
"The driver was lucky," he said. "The injuries could have been much worse, seat belts save lives by keeping occupants in their seats and inside the vehicle in a crash."