Navy aids in rescue of hiker injured in Olympic National Park

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A 46-year-old Seattle man who was injured while hiking in Badger Valley near Obstruction Point south of Port Angeles was rescued after he managed to send a text to a friend.

A Navy helicopter crew from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island flew the man to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles to be treated for his injury Monday evening, a Navy spokesman said. He was not identified.

Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park spokeswoman, said the park sent a hasty team to search for the man after he sent a text to a friend asking for help.

She said the man was unable to put in a call to 9-1-1 himself because of a lack of cellphone reception, but he managed to find enough signal to send the text.

The friend called for help and the park sent a team to help at about 3:08 p.m. The man was on his way to OMC by about 8 p.m., Wagner said.

“It was a fairly quick pickup rescue,” Wagner said. “He was able to get that text out, which was now the notification process started.”

She said the search team had little information to work with.

All they knew was that he was near Obstruction Point and that he had a one-day backcountry camping permit for Grand Lake.

“None of the hikers rangers contacted had seen him,” she said. “We didn’t know where to go.”

Wagner said that searchers were wearing brightly colored clothing, which made it easier for the man to see them. Once he saw the search teams he worked to catch their attention.

She was uncertain about how he was injured.

It would have been difficult to get the man out of the area on foot due to the steep terrain, she said. That was what led to officials asking for a helicopter.

“It would have been a technical carry-out,” she said. “It was really steep.”

Wagner said this incident is just one of many rescues in the park this year and that this year alone has already seen a 30 percent increase in rescues when compared to the same period last year.

As of May 30, there had already been 20 search and rescues, 13 of which involved helicopters, she said.

Wagner said it isn’t clear why the park has seen such an increase, but she said people who go into the park should be prepared for what they may encounter.

She said that the man was well prepared and had his backcountry permit.

“Those were all the right things to do,” she said.

She recommended having personal locating beacons and a device that can be used to send out a message if there is trouble.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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