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Contact: Penny Wagner, 360-565-3005Back-to-back search and rescue (SAR) incidents occurred in Olympic National Park over the weekend. Visitors are urged to plan ahead, hike smart, pack the Ten Essentials, and have an emergency plan even for a day hike. Hiking is a popular activity through the fall and visitors are reminded to be prepared for changing weather conditions that can also affect rescue efforts. Consider learning CPR and basic wilderness first aid, especially if you are planning to hike in the backcountry.
Late on the evening of Thursday, September 19, Olympic National Park received information from Peninsula Communications (PenCom) regarding a missing 40-year-old male from Neah Bay. The missing person was reported as last seen five days prior after being dropped off at the Little River Trailhead on Little River Road in Port Angeles. Little River Trail is 8.0 miles one way and gains over 4,000 feet in elevation as it climbs to Hurricane Ridge. It was reported that the man had intended to take a day hike up Little River Trail and down the Hurricane Hill to Elwha Trail.
Two hasty teams composed of park staff were sent to Hurricane Ridge early the next morning on September 20, one to search the Hurricane Hill Trail down to the Elwha and the other team to search down the Little River Trail. The missing hiker was located that morning down a ravine approximately 200 yards from the trail and was suffering from exposure-related medical issues. The hiker lacked the Ten Essentials and only had a pocket knife with him. A total of 25 people were involved in the entire search and rescue operation with a team of twenty people performing the litter carryout. The rescue team worked for six hours to conduct the 4.5 mile litter carryout due to the difficult terrain. The patient was transported to Olympic Medical Center for medical evaluation and treatment. Park staff coordinated with Port Angeles Police Department and were assisted by Clallam County Search and Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue, a volunteer search and rescue organization that frequently partners with the park and is dedicated to saving lives through rescue and mountain safety education.
On Saturday evening, Jefferson County Communications Center (JeffCom) received a 911 call requesting medical aid for an injured hiker. The hiking partner reported an adult male from the Seattle area had sustained traumatic injuries after a fall while hiking near Lake Constance in the Daniel J. Evans Wilderness. A U.S. Navy helicopter team was requested to perform the rescue. Late Saturday evening the weather prevented the U.S. Navy helicopter from reaching the patient directly, but was able to put a crew member and a medic on the ground at Lake Constance to reach the patient on foot. Around 10:30 pm, the clouds broke and the helicopter rescue crew hoisted the patient. The patient was transported in critical condition to Harborview Medical Center at 11:30pm. Jefferson Search and Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue were involved in the operation on the ground. The hikers were both experienced and well-equipped for their excursion.
The National Park Service partners and trains with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard to perform helicopter rescues in Olympic.
The total number of SAR incidents in Olympic National Park for 2019 is 77.
For information about planning ahead and staying safe while visiting and hiking in national parks visit https://www.nps.gov/subjects/trails/hiking-safety.htm.
For information on planning a backpacking trip in Olympic National Park check out the Wilderness Trip Planner guide at https://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/wilderness-trip-planner.htm.
Last updated: September 25, 2019