Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 • Bike crash lands Susanville man in Chico hospital

A Susanville mountain biker had to be rescued last week after he crashed on a popular trail near Chico.

Susanville resident James Whittaker crashed his bike while riding in Upper Bidwell Park.

At approximately 10:50 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, James Whittaker, of Susanville, and Brian Tilford, of Westwood, were riding their mountain bikes on the South Rim Trail in upper Bidwell Park in Chico. Whittaker went over the handlebars of his bike when his front tire landed on soft ground and slid out. He landed on his back over a log and was unable to walk so Tilford called 911.

The Chico Fire Department was able to locate the mountain bikers by using the longitude and latitude from the cell phone used to place the emergency call.

After determining it was unsafe to hike down from the nearby disc golf course, rescuers hiked 45 minutes on the South Rim Trail to reach Whittaker.

At approximately 1:55 p.m., the Calfire helicopter from Vina hauled Whittaker out of the canyon in a basket suspended by a cable to a landing zone on Highway 32. Seconds later, an Enloe Medical Center FlightCare helicopter transported the patient from the highway to the hospital for treatment.

The California Highway Patrol closed a section of Highway 32 for a few minutes to allow for the rescue. Both on-duty and off-duty rescue team members were having regular rescue training at the time, which allowed them to respond quickly.

Whittaker is being treated for four fractured spinous processes in the lumbar region of his back. Doctors estimate he will be on bed rest for a minimum of eight weeks.

In total, the rescue took about three hours and included assistance from Bidwell Park rangers, CHP, Chico Fire Department and rescue team, Calfire and Butte County EMS.