CONWAY — A “Find My Friends” phone app is credited with helping rescuers to locate an injured North Conway mountain biker on a White Mountain NEMBA trail on Cranmore Mountain late Sunday afternoon.
Kevin Arnold, 58, of Swett Street in North Conway, is listed in stable condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine. He was airlifted there from the summit of Cranmore Sunday evening by a DHART (Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team) helicopter from Lebanon-Hanover, according to North Conway Fire Chief Pat Preece, who oversaw the rescue, working with volunteers, North Conway Fire and Rescue, Fish and Game and Conway police.
“The phone app played a key role, no question,” said Preece. “Without the application, we would have been hard-pressed to find him in a timely manner. So many trails come off that mountain, but through that application we were able to find him very, very quickly. He was very lucky.”
Arnold’s wife, Jeannie Cafarelli, who works for The Conway Daily Sun, said Wednesday that he is being treated for back injuries at the trauma center at Maine Medical.
According to Cafarelli, Arnold suffered those injuries after going over his handlebars while descending the Kandahar Trail.
Arnold, who is employed at Ceramco of Center Conway, was riding solo and wearing a helmet.
His wife said he texted her a photo after he reached the summit Sunday afternoon, noting, “I’m at the top; now to get down.”
She lost contact after that message and became concerned when he didn't make it home by dinnertime.
Her phone app showed Arnold’s location hadn't moved on the mountain. She called 911 and reported her concerns to the dispatcher.
Conway Patrol Officer Morganne Sterl responded to Cranmore, where she and Cafarelli studied the satellite image of Arnold’s phone position.
Meanwhile, because they could not be certain whether the phone was with Arnold or if it might have fallen out of his pocket, Conway police dispatched personnel to his and Cafarelli's home in case he had arrived while search and rescue operations were taking place.
North Conway Fire and Rescue and Fish and Game personnel soon arrived at Cranmore. Mountain biking friends Stefan and son Reed Karnopp — who had been riding in the area — and Stefan’s wife, Teri Karnopp, also responded to a phone call from Cafarelli.
Reed and Stefan used the satellite image and photo that Arnold had taken near the summit to start their search.
Nick Preece of North Conway Fire and the Karnopps both said they knew “exactly where the phone was” based on that information.
Using their truck, Fish and Game drove up the mountain’s service road while fire department and Cranmore personnel went up in two ATVs.
The firefighters reached the location first and found Arnold. Stefan and Reed Karnopp also reached the scene on their bikes.
Preece made the decision to call DHART, telling Cafarelli that they were fortunate that the helicopter was in the vicinity, only 20 minutes' flight time away.
Arnold was carried in a litter to the Fish and Game truck and brought to the summit, where he was met by the DHART crew.
“My husband and I would like to thank all the first responders and Cranmore. We are very grateful that things turned out the way it did. As for the phone app, I can’t say enough about how well it served us in this situation,” said Cafarelli.
Ben Wilcox, general manager and president of Cranmore Mountain, said he was pleased to know that Arnold was attended to quickly.
“Our thoughts are with him, and hopefully Kevin has a good recovery,” said Wilcox.
Wilcox said Cranmore has an agreement to allow the White Mountains chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association to manage trails on Cranmore property.