Hikers rescued from a cliff

Coast Guard crew hoists pair from rising tide

FORKS — Two hikers were rescued from a 150-foot ledge near Hoh Head, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Tessa Allen and Reed Farber, who are both in their 20s, were hoisted at about 2 a.m. Sunday by an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles.

They were taken to Forks Airport and placed into the care of emergency medical technicians. They were reported to be in good condition and were not taken to a hospital, the Coast Guard said.

“The time of day and location of the hikers made this, by far, the most difficult hoist of my career,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Sammy Hill, the aircraft commander, in a Monday news release.

“This was also the first operational rescue for both our rescue swimmer and flight mechanic. Considering the dark and perilous conditions, they did a commendable job saving the lives of these two people in their unprecedented first rescue.”

Olympic National Park Rangers contacted the Coast Guard at about midnight Sunday requesting air rescue assistance for two people stranded about 60 feet up a cliff.

Allen and Farber were hiking along Jefferson Cove just south of Hoh Head when they scrambled up the cliff to retreat from rising tides, Coast Guard Petty Officer Cynthia Oldham, District 13 spokeswoman, said in a Monday interview.

The tide was rising from 3.57 feet at 10:44 p.m. Saturday to 8.75 feet at 4:39 a.m. Sunday, according tide tables for nearby Destruction Island.

Park Rangers requested a Coast Guard helicopter rescue due to the inaccessible location. Hoh Head is on a rugged, remote coastline in west Jefferson County north of Oil City.

The MH-65 Dolphin crew found the hikers when they spotted a cell phone light from the cliff.

“After realizing the hikers were actually about 150 feet from the water line, and huddled closely on a small ledge, the aircrew immediately knew the situation was life-threatening, and it was critical to hoist Allen and Farber as soon as safely possible,” Coast Guard officials said.

“When the rescue swimmer deployed from the helicopter to hoist the hikers, the brittle condition of the cliff’s face made establishing secure contact challenging as he worked to prepare Allen and Farber to be hoisted into the aircraft.”

The MH-65 Dolphin hovered about 240 feet above the hikers and rescue swimmer near the limit of the hoist cable. The pilot kept focused on nearby trees and the dangerous pitch of the cliff’s ledge, the Coast Guard said.

“The rescue swimmer had a really hard time getting secure contact with the people on the cliff ledge, because every time he tried to establish some footing, chunks would just break off under his feet, Oldham said in a telephone interview.

“It was just a really challenging situation. But luckily, the two people were in good spirits.

“It was actually really fortunate,” Oldham added.

Oldham said she could not confirm Allen and Farber’s exact ages or where they live.

The Coast Guard reminded hikers to always know the tide schedule while exploring the coast, carry a flashlight and always have a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency.

“The battery on the cell phone these hikers used to vector in their rescuers died just moments after the pilots spotted their location,” Coast Guard officials said.

A video of the rescue is available at www.tinyurl.com/8de446mm.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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