Olympic National Park rescues number 71 so far this year

Labor Day weekend kept emergency crews working

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — Multiple search and rescues in Olympic National Park — including Monday’s rescue of a 15-year-old boy who fell in the Sol Duc River — kept rescue crews busy over the Labor Day weekend.

At about 12:12 p.m. Monday Olympic National Park dispatch received a report that the 15-year-old fell into the Sol Duc River and went over Sol Duc Falls, falling up to 50 feet.

This incident was one of 71 search and rescue incidents so far this year.

Olympic National Park is urging visitors to plan ahead, hike smart, pack the 10 essentials and to have an emergency plan.

“Although Labor Day is often thought of as marking the end of the busy summer season, hiking is still a popular activity through the fall,” the park said in a press release.

“As we transition from summer to fall, visitors are reminded to be prepared for changing weather conditions that can also affect rescue efforts.”

The Bloomfield Hills, Mich., boy was walking beyond the viewing platform area above the falls when he fell into the river, according to park officials.

The boy was able to climb out of the water and onto a boulder in the canyon below the falls, where he awaited rescue.

An official who participated in the rescue said that the initial report was that the patient was close to 4 years old.

A technical rope rescue team was required to get the teen out of the canyon. Park staff lowered a life jacket and helmet to the teen.

Two members of the Forks Fire Department Swift Water Team managed to get below the patient on the banks of the river to maintain containment if the boy were to fall back into the water.

After the teen was lifted from the canyon, he was carried out nearly a mile on a wheeled litter to the trailhead, where he was evaluated by medical personnel.

Olympic National Park, Forks Fire Department Swift Water Team, Forks Ambulance, Clallam County Fire Districts 1, 2 and 3 and Clallam County Technical Rescue participated in the rescue.

Backcountry rescue

The day before the Sol Duc River rescue, rangers rescued a hiker who was injured Friday while hiking at Lake LaCrosse on the North Fork Skokomish River Trail, about 20 miles from the Staircase area in the southeast corner of the park.

A backcountry ranger contacted the hiker’s group Friday and began hiking out with the group Saturday. While on the way back the group decided they needed assistance due to the backpacker’s ankle injury.

The National Park Service flew in a helicopter from Mount Rainier National Park and the injured hiker was transported outside Staircase before he was sent to Mason General Hospital.

There were also two overdue party reports and multiple medical calls over the holiday weekend.

Glacier Meadows death

On Aug. 16, the park received a report of an injured backpacker in the area of Glacier Meadows, near the base of Mount Olympus.

When park personnel arrived they found that the 65-year-old man from Freeville, N.Y., was dead. Members of the group the man was with reported the man had fallen after a medical issue.

The National Park Service activated a helicopter from the North Cascades to recover the man’s body, which was flown to Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles before being transferred to the Jefferson County coroner.

The cause of the death of Jon Erickson was coronary artery atherosclerosis, according to the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. The prosecutor’s office doubles as the coroner’s office.

10 essentials for hiking

  1. Navigation: Map, altimeter, compass, [GPS device], [PLB or satellite communicators], [extra batteries or battery pack]
  2. Headlamp: Plus extra batteries
  3. Sun protection: Sunglasses, sun-protective clothes, and sunscreen
  4. First aid: Including foot care and insect repellent (if required)
  5. Knife: Plus repair kit
  6. Fire: Matches, lighter and tinder, or stove as appropriate
  7. Shelter: Carried at all times (can be light emergency bivy)
  8. Extra food: Beyond minimum expectation
  9. Extra water: Beyond minimum expectation, or the means to purify
  10. Extra clothes: Beyond minimum expectation

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

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