SALT LAKE CITY — When Dinny Trabert saw an unfamiliar international number on her phone, she knew something was wrong.
Her husband had been traveling with a friend to heli-ski in the subarctic conditions of far eastern Russia on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The friend told her on the phone there were “problems with the helicopter,” and Mike Trabert — an elite athlete and son of world tennis champion Tony Trabert — was hurt.
“My heart just sank,” Dinny Trabert said. “At that point, I needed all the details.”
The Vityaz-Aero chartered Mi-8 helicopter dropping the group off at the snowy Mutnovsky volcano had malfunctioned and crashed upon landing, she said. The large aircraft carrying 16 people and supplies rolled, throwing two people out of the helicopter and dislodging local tennis pro Mike Trabert, who was hit in the head by a large cooler chest.
“They believe that’s how he broke his neck,” Dinny Trabert said.
Getting details of the crash and its aftermath has been difficult, she said, given that her husband is in a very remote part of Russia and not many people there speak English.
The family didn’t even know what hospital Mike Trabert, 60, had been taken to, except that it was later reported in Russian media.
A Russian and a Frenchman were also injured in the crash, and all three were taken to Kamchatka’s Lukashevsky Regional Hospital for treatment. The Far East Transport prosecutor’s office is investigating the crash.
“The fact he’s OK is a miracle,” said Mike Trabert’s sister, Brooke Trabert.
She said her brother, “an extreme athlete,” had to climb out of the other side of the helicopter with no support for his neck. The injured were then picked up by another helicopter and taken to ambulances on the ground.
“He’s amazing,” Brooke Trabert said. “We joke and…