FORKS — A Forks woman who became lost in the woods near the Calawah River was rescued after her calls for help were reported to law enforcement.
The woman, whom Clallam County Sheriff’s Office personnel declined to identify due to potential embarrassment, got lost while picking mushrooms Saturday evening north of Forks and didn’t have a light or other survival supplies, said Sgt. John Keegan of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
“She had gone out earlier in the day, got stuck, wandered around and found the river,” Keegan said. “From the river, she could see lights from houses and she started to yell to try and get somebody to hear her.”
The strategy worked. The woman was rescued early Sunday morning after the Sheriff’s Office received a 9:30 p.m. Saturday call from a Riviera Drive residence reporting calls for help coming from the opposite side of the river.
A multi-agency response followed as a Forks Police Department officer staffed a position near the woman’s location on the south side of the river, and a search team made up of members of the La Push Police Department, the Sheriff’s Office and the Clallam County Volunteer Search and Rescue Team began to clear a path to the woman.
A river-crossing rescue was ruled out due to darkness and river conditions after heavy rains.
“We tried to mitigate all the circumstances that would make the situation go from bad to worse, and it was easier to go into the woods to find her than to introduce water into the rescue. The Forks police officer on the other side could see and hear her at all times if conditions changed.”
Due to the dense forest, the search team had to use machetes to clear a 1-mile-long trail to the woman. The search team made verbal contact with the woman around 2:10 a.m. and located her about 10 minutes later.
After being provided with warm clothes, a blanket and some warm liquids, the woman was transported to her vehicle parked near the 3000 block of Sitkum-Sol Duc Road.
Keegan said the incident was a good reminder to be more cautious when recreating in the wilderness.
“We always recommend taking out the 10 essentials when venturing out in the wilderness,” Keegan said, referring to a list that includes a map, compass, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra clothing, headlamp or flashlight, first-aid supplies, fire starter, matches, knife and extra food.
“It’s usually the people who are going to be back in an hour or so who fall and break an ankle or get lost,” he said.
“Just because you know what you are planning to do, accidents can occur. And generally, it’s a good idea to go with some friends or let others know of your plans.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected].