NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A New Mexico Airman is being credited for helping save a woman’s life in a far-flung and remote area of the U.S. It is a story of being at the right place, at the right time, and it happened after the victim fell through a glacier.

“I just owe everything to them. Not just my life, but my renewed spirit and positive outlook,” said Deanne Casari about her rescue northeast of Anchorage, Alaska.  

Casari has gratitude after her trip to escape everyday life ended with a rescue. Her Anchorage trip was one where she had hoped to find healing after her battle with breast cancer.

“I had this whole idea and plan of doing things for me, for my health, for my physical, mental, emotional health,” said Casari.

She went on the Alaska trip with a friend from college. They scheduled a hike on September 10 to explore glaciers, but it did not go as planned.

During the hike, Casari fell through the ice while walking through an ice tunnel. She mentioned that she fell in past her hips and ended up breaking a leg.

Luckily, a group of Airmen were also on that hike, including Master Sergeant Cole Caygill from Rio Rancho.

“It was a crazy process. Of course, you don’t expect that to happen when you’re going for a hike. But it couldn’t have been a better group of people for me to do it with,” said Caygill.

Using their Air Force training, the Airmen stepped in to help. The team built a makeshift stretcher with rope and a tarp. They then carried Casari to an area where a rescue helicopter was waiting.

The task was not an easy one, though. They faced difficult terrain and slippery ice.

“They just took charge, and they took over, and they all just worked as a team,” said Casari.

While Casari is grateful, Caygill added that the rescue was just the right thing to do.

“Someone in need needed our help, and we were more than happy to step up,” said Caygill.

The Airmen carried Casari about four hundred yards to safety. She is now recovering at home in Colorado.