MARFA-clouds-bg.svg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Injured Odessa Hiker in "Fair" Condition after Mountain Rescue

hikerrescue1
Davis Mountains site, at Hwy 3078, near command post for rescue operation of injured hiker, September 22, 2014 (Daniel Alvarado)

Update 9:50 AM Tuesday: After an overnight stay at Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Franco's condition has improved from "serious" to "fair." She was airlifted from Pecos to the Odessa hospital after being rescued from a mountainous area of Jeff Davis County on Monday.

CBS 7 spoke to Franco's mother as the rescue mission was underway:

“I know we’re all wanting her to come home so we can hug her and tell her we love her,” said Sonya Lara, Franco’s mother.


Update 4:15 PM: All first responders have made it off the mountain are back at the incident command post.

Update 1:30 PM: A DPS helicopter has just managed to successfully transport injured hiker Kista Franco out of the mountainous area where she was stationed with rescue crews.

Jim Fowler with the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department (FDVFD) says she will likely be transported by Balmorhea EMS to a hospital in Pecos. She was last reported to be medically stabilized, but had lost some blood after suffering an injury while on a hiking trip.

New storms are beginning to build in the area, so it's possible the rescue crews in the mountains will have to trek out on foot. That process could take the reminder of the day, if not longer - roads in the ranchland near where the crews entered are reported to be rain-soaked and muddy.

Read below for more details as we continue to follow this story.

Update 12:00 PM: Additional rescue workers from the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department, Border Patrol and the McDonald Observatory have been dispatched to help carry out injured hiker Kista Franco, if crews decide weather conditions won't improve enough to send in an airlift.

Jim Fowler with the FDVFD says the decision to hike out or send in a helicopter will likely be made within an hour.

He says crews aim to have Franco out of the mountains by sunset.

Original Story

Rescue operations are still underway Monday morning for an injured hiker who was stranded in a canyon in Jeff Davis County, in tough, mountainous terrain near Mt. McElroy.

Live Rescue Update 10 AM Hour

As  CBS 7 reports, 19-year old Odessa resident Kista Franco was hiking with friends when she became stranded in a canyon after an accident:

Kista Franco fell and broke her leg during a hike with two friends, her mother, Sonya Lara, says she is stuck between two steep mountain edges.

Lara said one of her two friends went to get help.


Local EMS received an emergency call Sunday morning at 10 am, and crews were sent in to find Franco and pull her out of the canyon.

Our latest updates indicate Franco was successfully pulled from the canyon Sunday and taken to an area where a helicopter could land. An attempted helicopter rescue was grounded late Sunday because of poor weather conditions, which only worsened as the evening went on.

Jim Fowler with the Fort Davis Volunteer Fire Department tells KRTS rescue crews traveled in by ATV but had to hike the rest of the way in to locate Franco. When weather conditions started to turn bad, the crew decided to camp through the rainy night in the mountains.

Texas DPS and Border Patrol air craft have been coordinating for a potential air rescue operation this morning, but Coyne Gibson, Operations Support Manager with the McDonald Observatory, says foggy conditions and low cloud cover have prohibited any flights into the area.

"There's a very low-level cloud ceiling, so they're basically socked in on the mountaintop," Gibson says, "and then they've got higher-level clouds coming in providing additional cloud cover, so it's making it very difficult from a weather perspective."

[iframe src="https://mapsengine.google.com/map/embed?mid=zEL_THc5BGsQ.kF7wYNLVDRxs" width="640" height="480"iframe]

As part of the observatory's emergency response team, Gibson has been providing authorities and rescue crews on and off the scene with weather updates via radio.

Gibson says the clouds show no sign of clearing up anytime soon - additional moisture from the gulf is moving into the region and increasing the cloud cover.

"So it's not looking terribly good for aerial extraction."

The rescue crew on the scene does have spotty but occasional cell phone service, along with a battery-powered satellite phone.

Fowler confirmed this morning that a crew of seven additional rescue workers is being sent in on foot to bring food and supplies to the rescue team on site and Franco, and to possibly carry Franco out on foot if weather conditions don't improve.

But that wouldn't be easy.

"The terrain they're in is incredibly rugged and boulder-covered," Gibson says. "It's a very difficult, time-consuming and exhausting process if they're going to have to do that."

Franco has been stabilized by medics on the scene, but Fowler says she has lost some blood from her injuries, and after being exposed to rainy weather and chilly temperatures overnight, rescuers will be working quickly to get her out of the area and transported to a hospital.

Fort Davis VFD and local EMS crews are coordinating the rescue effort with the Jeff Davis County Sheriff's Department, DPS, Border Patrol, and Game Wardens.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.