Rescued hiker in satisfactory condition after 30-foot fall

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A hiker who fell 30 feet off a cliff in Olympic National Park on Thursday was listed in satisfactory condition Saturday at Harborview Medical Center.

Benjamin Grosbeck, 24, who is from the Seattle area, is now out of the intensive care unit, the Seattle hospital reported Saturday.

At about 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Grosbeck was climbing barefoot on a cliff at the south end of Lake Angeles when he fell about 30 feet, park spokeswoman Penny Wagner said.

Nearby hikers heard the sound of Grosbeck’s fall and called park authorities, Wagner said.

“They were really instrumental in the communication,” Wagner said. “It was very fortunate people were there.”

A search and rescue (SAR) team from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island and park personnel hoisted Grosbeck out at about 1 a.m. Friday and transported him to Harborview, according to a press release.

NAS Whidbey Island received notification from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) about the injured hiker late Thursday night.

The AFRCC indicated Grosbeck potentially suffered a broken back and other injuries he sustained from a fall at an elevation of approximately 4,500 feet, just south of Port Angeles.

Mike Welding, a public affairs officer for NAS Whidbey, said he did not know how the fall was initially reported.

NAS Whidbey’s SAR unit departed from the base at 11:45 p.m. and reached the location area shortly after midnight.

According to Lt. Andrew Boyle, the SAR mission commander, Grosbeck was at the bottom of a vertical steep face near extremely tall trees, making insertion of the rescue crew very difficult. The thick haze limited the crew’s visibility.

“They really did a phenomenal job, especially with the smoke and haze,” Wagner said.

Once the crew got Grosbeck aboard the Navy helicopter, they flew him to Harborview Medical Center, arriving around 2 a.m., according to the press release.

Boyle said the mission proved challenging, particularly the rugged terrain and environmental conditions.

“Our communication as a crew was the greatest asset we had,” Boyle said. Throughout each phase of the mission we met each challenge and discussed as a crew the best and safest way to accomplish the task at hand.”

This was the 27th rescue of 2017 for NAS Whidbey Island SAR, which has also conducted five searches and 14 medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions this year, totaling 52 lives.

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Reporter Sarah Sharp can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at [email protected].

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