Fly Fishing People: Dan Ellison and Donnie Priest

October 14, 2007 By: Marshall Cutchin

Donnie Priest was a top news story 25 years ago when he was removed from a cold Yosemite mountain top by an intrepid team of rescuers, including helicopter pilot Dan Ellison. Priest lost both of his parents in the crash, then lost both of his legs from frostbite. Recently the man who held the helicopter in its precarious hover over the remote rescue site invited Priest up for a week of fly fishing on the Bitterroot, the Clark Fork and the Missouri, in Montana. “Despite offering the invitation, Ellison was a little nervous. He’s unaware of any psychological protocol, official or otherwise, for how to emotionally handle the lingering relationship between rescuer and rescuee. ‘There’s no guidance that I’m aware of, and frankly, I was a little worried about how you have one of these kinds of reunions. I’m not sure how you do this,’ he said.” John Harrington tells the story in the Helena Independent Record.