An ailing American research worker who was evacuated from the South Pole in a daring weekend rescue will need surgery to treat his potentially life-threatening condition, co-workers said Monday. The man, whose name and condition have been withheld at his request, was being flown Monday from the southern tip of Chile to Houston on a private jet. He was rescued from the South Pole Sunday by a Canadian turboprop plane.
THE MEDICAL DIRECTOR of Raytheon Polar Services, the Centennial-based company that manages the U.S. base at the Pole, said the illness might have been life-threatening if left untreated. News reports that the man has a bladder problem were incorrect, Dr. Ron Shemenski said.
The Canadian rescue plane landed late Sunday in Punta Arenas, Chile. Reporters saw the bearded man, who appeared to be around age 50, step off the plane during the stop.
He smiled broadly, accompanied by two women, one of them carrying a camera and taking pictures.
The rescue plane had taken off from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station about 5 a.m. ET Sunday and arrived in Punta Arenas after stopping Sunday night at a British base on the coast of Antarctica, said Elaine Hood of Raytheon.
The rescue flight had been delayed for days because of wind and snow during the Southern Hemisphere’s spring season. It was the third such rescue in four years, and occurred in darkness. The sun doesn’t come up at the South Pole until Tuesday.
“We had a break in the weather. It was only minus 70 degrees when the plane landed at the South Pole,” said B.K. Grant, Raytheon’s South Pole area director.
She said a C130 military plane, often used in such situations, could not land because its grease would have frozen. The Canadian Twin Otters use mechanical cables.
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