Pilot's Insane Skills Help Pull Off Dramatic Helicopter Rescue in French Alps

Combined Shape

On Jan. 2, Nicolas Derely led a group out on Mont-Blanc massif. The group consisted of Derely’s kids, one of his kids’ friends, and a nephew on the skiing trip of a lifetime as they hit the French Alps.

“We are 6: Lorraine, Ferdinand, Adrien, Nicolas Derely, Emmanuel, nephew and Bruno Tissier, a friend of Ferdinand,” he wrote in a Facebook post detailing their (mis)adventure.

“We follow a route, it’s a way, we can not really get lost,” a translation of Derely’s comments reads, according to France 3.

Everything was set up for success. All their equipment was new, the path was clear and the mountains were beautiful. Bruno Tissier, the 19-year-old friend of Derely’s son had some experience skiing, but nothing quite like this.

As they neared the end, Derely explained how Tissier should get down the difficult last section of slope, but as Tissier made his descent, disaster struck.

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His knee twisted and he was left immobile in the snow. According to Derely, the young man immediately thought of his sister, whose knee has dislocated before, and figured that must be what was happening to him.

“He can’t move and explain to me that he dislocated his knee,” Derely wrote. “I can not stand up, I can not stand up, I got to know that Bruno got hurt.”

Stuck on the side of the mountain with nothing but snow-capped alps around them, a helicopter had to be called in to rescue the downed man. Derely said it was a miracle he was able to call for help.

“There is a lot of wind coming down, I cover Bruno with my jacket, cover his head, get my phone out, and miracle, I have the 4 BARS AND 4G,” he continued in his post.

The real skill in this rescue was demonstrated by the helicopter pilot, who touched down ever so slightly, skids pressed against the mountainside and rotors barely missing the snow, so three rescuers could hop out directly onto the snow without needing to be lowered down.

The gendarmes (later identified by Derely as Bruno Tauziet, Blaise Agresti and Frank Junod) attended to Tissier, strapping his knee into a brace as he winces and cries out. He manages to give Derely a wavering smile and a peace sign at one point, but it’s clear he’s experiencing a lot of pain.

Once he’s ready to go, the helicopter comes back through the fog to retrieve them, executing another impressive touchdown on the mountainside to pick up the young man and one of the rescuers.

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Next, it lifts off and sends a line down to the remaining two gendarmes who are hauled up, and then they all head to the Chamonix hospital.

This is certainly a story that Tissier will remember for a long time to come, and Derely’s video capture of this amazing rescue has thrilled people around the world and given them a taste of what a rescue in the Alps looks like.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking