OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A man whose family hadn’t heard from him for more than a week was recently rescued from a ravine in Olympic National Park south of Port Angeles.
On Friday, Olympic National Park Rangers, Clallam County Search and Rescue and Olympic Mountain Rescue extricated 40-year-old Robert Sawyer of Neah Bay from a ravine about 4.5 miles up the Little River Trail south of Port Angeles.
The ravine was about 200 yards from the trail and he was carried by rescuers to the trailhead on a Stokes litter, which took almost eight hours due to the difficult terrain.
Officials said Clallam County Fire District No. 2 was preparing to send a rope team, but park rangers were able to help Sawyer out of the ravine and back up to the trail.
A total of 25 people were involved in the entire search and rescue operation.
He was then transferred to Olympic Medical Center for evaluation of hypothermia, shortly after midnight. An official at Olympic Medical Center said on Monday that Sawyer was not currently a patient at the hospital.
The hiker lacked the 10 essentials of hiking and only had a pocket knife with him, according to an Olympic National Park press release Monday evening.
Port Angeles Deputy Chief Jason Viada said police first received the report Sawyer was missing last Thursday, the day before the search on the Little River Trail began.
“There is a family member that frequently talks to him and hadn’t heard from him since [Sept. 12],” Viada said.
Viada was unsure of how many days Sawyer had actually been in the ravine, but posted on the Police Department’s Facebook page that Sawyer “was suffering from several days of exposure to the Pacific Northwest weather.”
He said police were told that there was a plan that Sawyer be dropped off at the trailhead and then be picked up at another location, though Viada said he didn’t have specific information about that plan.
Police worked on the investigation through the night and attempted to ping Sawyer’s cellphone.
Clallam County Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said park rangers found Sawyer at about noon Friday and that’s when they requested help.
“My understanding is they had information that the individual was last seen in the area of that trailhead, so rangers were up there looking when they came across him,” King said.
Viada urged anyone going hiking in Olympic National Park to carry the 10 essentials and to tell someone where they are going and when they will return.
“Know the area you are going to be hiking or backpacking in be prepared for it,” Viada said.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].