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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
Four Olympic National Park rangers were honored for their courageous rescue of a lost skier at Wednesday’s Honor Convocation at the Department of the Interior’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. Receiving the prestigious Department of the Interior Valor Award were Olympic National Park ranger Bryan Bell, Michael Danisiewicz and Sanny Lustig and Scot Bowen, retired Olympic National Park ranger.
The four were recognized for their valiant rescue of a skier lost on Hurricane Hill during a winter storm in late 2007.
Randy Kraxberger of Port Townsend, Washington, was skiing near the top of Hurricane Hill on the afternoon of December 29 when a storm brought high winds, blowing snow and extremely limited visibility. Becoming disoriented in the white-out, he called for help on his cell phone, setting in motion a daring and arduous rescue effort in the face of blizzard conditions and high avalanche danger.
As darkness fell, Rangers Bell, Danisiewicz and Lustig spent several hours searching for Kraxberger, but were forced to retreat when avalanche and weather conditions became too hazardous to continue. Cell phone contact with Kraxberger the following morning allowed rangers to determine his location on Hurricane Hill and Rangers Bell, Bowen and Lustig set off on skis through the wind and blowing snow, breaking trail through three to four feet of new snow. Kraxberger was found on the in good health and was able to ski the three miles back to Hurricane Ridge with his rescuers.
“These four individuals exemplify the finest qualities of the park ranger profession,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin. “We applaud their heroism and commitment and join in both honoring and congratulating them for this well-deserved award.”
All four rangers were recognized for their courage, physical stamina and conditioning and excellent winter skills, while Bowen and Danisiewicz were also honored for their leadership, sound judgement and steely determination in the face of blizzard and avalanche conditions.
About the recipients:
- Bryan Bell manages the park’s Wilderness Information Center and has worked at Olympic National Park for 15 years.
- Mike Danisiewicz has worked for the NPS for 23 and at Olympic for 16; he is currently the Elwha Sub-District Ranger.
- Susannah “Sanny” Lustig has been an NPS ranger for 13 years and has worked at Olympic for 12 years; she currently is the Hurricane Ridge Sub-District Ranger.
- Scot Bowen retired in January 2008 after 23 years of service as an NPS ranger and two years in the Sol Duc Sub-District of Olympic National Park.