Survival Weekly – 7/15/14…


Dehydration, drowning, lightning storms and several other summer time wilderness hazards are showcased this week. In honor of Whistlemania, I highlighted one SAR initiated by a whistle.

Video from paraglider rescue –

Death Valley National Park (CA)
Body Of British Actor Found Near Zabriskie Point

The body of British actor Dave Legeno, best known for his role as werewolf Fenrir Greyback in three of the ‘Harry Potter’ films, was discovered by hikers in the badlands near Zabriskie Point on July 6th.

Temperatures at the time of his death were as much as 118° to 123°F. This is the second heat-related death in the park this summer. Hiking is not recommended in the low elevations of Death Valley in the summer. 

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.

Rocky Mountain National Park (CO)
Lightning Kills Two, Injures Ten In Separate Incidents

Lightning strikes killed two park visitors and injured ten others on park trails in separate incidents this past Friday and Saturday.

Around 1:20 p.m. on Friday, July 11th, the park was notified that a lightning strike had hit a number of visitors on the Ute Crossing Trail, located off of Trail Ridge Road between Rainbow Curve and Forest Canyon Overlook.

Eight visitors suffered a variety of injuries from the strike, with a 42-year-old Ohio woman succumbing to her injuries. Of the remaining seven, two were transported by ambulance and five transported themselves to the Estes Park Medical Center.   

Just before 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 12th, rangers were apprised of a lightning strike that injured four people, also near Rainbow Curve. All were taken to Estes Park Medical Center via ambulance. One of the four, a 52-year-old Nebraska man, did not survive.

The last lightning fatality that occurred in Rocky Mountain National Park was in 2000, when a technical climber was struck on the Diamond on Longs Peak. 

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (CA)
Missing Hiker Found In Kings Canyon

On July 3rd, a 33–year-old Clovis, California, man hiked from Florence Lake into the northern part of Kings Canyon National Park with the intent to climb Mt. Goddard. He was expected to return to his vehicle on July 7th, but by July 9th had not returned home.  Joint search operations were begun on July 9th with Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. 

On July 10th, search operations intensified, with six NPS hasty teams, the parks’ contract Type 3 helicopter, Yosemite NP’s Type 2 helicopter, and an NPS liaison assigned to Fresno County.   

Searchers reached the summit of Mount Goddard (elevation 13,558) and the peak register was found to have an entry left by the missing man on July 5th. On the evening of July 10th, the final team insertion took place around sunset near Davis Lake (elevation of 11,058), about two miles north of Mt. Goddard. 

As the helicopter was on final approach to the landing zone, the man was seen lying on the ground approximately fifty yards away.  The search team contacted him and found he had significant trauma to his lower extremities.  He said that he had been injured five days earlier while descending Mt. Goddard, had run out of food, and ultimately crawled toward Davis Lake. 

As sunset approached, potentially grounding the helicopter, the man was rapidly bandaged and carried to the helicopter by hand.  He was flown back to the park helibase, where he was transferred to a Life Flight helicopter for transport to a local hospital.

Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park (CO)
Two Rescues Conducted In Canyon

Rangers and Black Canyon Volunteer Search and Rescue Team members responded to two separate incidents over the Fourth of July weekend.

On Thursday, July 3rd, a 35-year-old Minnesota man who was backpacking with a friend on the South Rim’s Warner Route stepped off a 16-inch rock and broke his lower leg. The pair attempted to splint the lower leg with a trekking pole and a fishing rod, but the steep, loose terrain of Black Canyon made self-rescue impossible.

Rangers and a paramedic spent the night in the canyon with the pair and the SAR team and park personnel conducted a scree evacuation the following morning. The man was transported by ambulance to Montrose Memorial Hospital later that morning.

On Saturday, July 5th, a visitor at South Rim’s Chasm View overlook reported hearing a whistle and cries for help. Rangers on the South Rim were able to spot an individual toward the bottom of the North Rim’s S.O.B. Gully.

A climbing ranger hiked down to the 28-year-old hiker, who had fallen approximately 10 feet and suffered a compound leg fracture. Rangers and a paramedic spent the night with him to provide care, while a scree evacuation was staged for first light the following morning.

Black Canyon Volunteer Search and Rescue, park personnel, Western State Colorado University Search and Rescue, and West Elk Search and Rescue used 11 main and belay line stations of approximately 130 vertical feet each to raise the man a total of 1400 vertical feet. He was then transported via Tri State Care Flight to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

All the inner canyon routes in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park are infamous for loose rock, steep drop-offs and abundant poison ivy.

Buffalo National Scenic River (AR)
Visitor Saves Two Others From Drowning

On the afternoon of July 2nd, a father and daughter were saved from drowning by the heroic act of a visitor.

A man and his 10-year-old daughter were swimming in Buffalo River upstream from the Ponca low-water bridge when they were swept into deep water by the swift current. Neither of them were strong swimmers and both quickly became distressed. Michael Hogrefe of London Arkansas, who later revealed he is a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) instructor and former lifeguard, went to their aid.

Hogrefe swam to the child and was pulling her back to shallow water when the father grabbed him. Hogrefe had almost reached shallow water with both victims when the swift current pulled all three back downriver and against the bridge abutment.

The current was pulling all three towards the bridge opening even though Hogrefe was frantically trying to prevent this while grabbing and scraping his fingernails and fingertips along the concrete abutment. He could no longer hold onto the father and daughter and let both go. He immediately got out of the water and went to the downstream side of the bridge, where the child’s mother was holding a branch out to her husband.

The husband latched into the branch while holding his daughter by her heel. Hogrefe pulled the child out of the water. He found that she was unconscious, blue and not breathing, so immediately began CPR and was on his fourth cycle when he could feel her heart beat. She began blinking her eyes, coughed up water and started asking for her mother. Witness’s estimated the time the child was underwater to be about six minutes.

While this rescue was in progress, Hogrefe’s girlfriend drove to Ponca, which is a very short distance from the bridge, where Buffalo River Outfitters contacted Midwest Region Ozark Communication Center with information regarding a possible drowning.

District Ranger Mark Miller, BUFFSAR member Glenn Wheeler, and North Arkansas Regional Medical Center paramedics responded. The father and daughter were assessed on scene by NARMC ambulance personnel. The family refused ambulance transport but did self-transport to the hospital for treatment.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (ND)
Four Backcountry Rescues Conducted On Independence Day

Early on the afternoon of July 4th, the park received a cell phone call with a weak signal. Through the series of calls and texts that ensued, it was determined that the caller was a 21-year-old North Dakota man, that there were two other people in his party (a 23-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man), that they were lost in the Achenbach Hills Wilderness Area, and that they were dehydrated and had only 20 milliliters of water left, The temperature at the time was 90 degrees, the humidity was 88%, and there was no wind.

Even with GPS coordinates and brightly spread out camping items, attempts to locate the party in the wilderness area were unsuccessful.  A hasty team was sent towards the GPS coordinates and a medical helicopter was dispatched from Dickinson, North Dakota. The hasty team located the trio approximately 50 feet from the Achenbach Trail, hiked to them, assessed them, and prepared a landing zone. 

A determination was made by the flight crew and the NPS EMT that two of them would be taken to the McKenzie County ambulance that was staged two miles away and that they would then pick up the third person and fly him to the hospital in Dickinson.  

As preparations were being made for the first flight, a second incident occurred when one of the hasty team members fainted due to heat exhaustion and dehydration. The team then determined to fly all the members of the party and the hasty team EMT to the staged ambulance and return to transport the ill NPS employee to the hospital. 

During these operations a third incident occurred when crew members at the staging area were alerted by a party of four picnickers walking the Achenbach trail about 100 feet below. Members of the party reported that a man in their group was dehydrated and could not make it up the trail. The man weighed approximately 290 pounds and was at the bottom of an 85% slope.  

A team of approximately 16 people was gathered from the nearby ambulance crew, visitors, and NPS employees and volunteers.  Using a wheeled litter and a rope, the team successfully delivered the man to the already staged ambulance. 

The SAR team was wrapping up operations and was about halfway into their after action review when a fourth incident occurred.  North Dakota State Radio 911 dispatch advised they were receiving a series of calls from a cell phone with a weak signal. 

Through a series of calls and texts, it was determined this caller was a 20-year-old woman from Minot, North Dakota, and that she was hiking with a 20-year-old man, also from Minot. Both were lost in the Achenbach Hills Wilderness Area and dehydrated.

The air ambulance was again dispatched from Dickinson and the McKenzie County ambulance returned to the staging area.  The woman was instructed to light one of her two signal flares. Spotters at two locations observed the smoke from the flares and directed the air ambulance to the location, which was approximately 200 yards from the Achenbach Trail.

Due to the extreme heat and safety-related concerns, the incident commander, chief ranger and superintendent made the determination to close the Achenbach Trail, which remained closed until Sunday, July 6th, when weather conditions improved. 

A total of 25 people participated in the SAR; operations were completed around 10 p.m. Ranger Ron Sams served as incident commander for three of the incidents and he was assisted by incident commander trainee Jared Thompson for the fourth and final incident. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (MI)
Five Kayakers Rescued From Lake Michigan

On the afternoon of June 29th, five teenagers were rescued from the waters of Lake Michigan after being overcome by 25 mph winds and four- to five-foot waves while attempting to kayak approximately eight miles from South Manitou Island to the mainland of the park at Glen Haven. 

A ranger stationed on South Manitou Island received a phone call from a sailing vessel captain who reported picking up three kayakers who were in jeopardy. Two other members of their party were reported missing on the water and had not been seen for two hours.

Rangers and personnel from Glen Lake Fire Department, Leelanau County Sheriff’s Office and the Coast Guard conducted a search and rescue mission in and around park waters. Through joint search efforts, the two missing teens were located approximately one mile off the shore of Glen Haven.  One was found in their boat and the other in the water. 

The two were hoisted from the water by a Coast Guard helicopter and transported to emergency personnel at a boat ramp in Glen Arbor. The sailing vessel transported those on board to a waiting ambulance in Leland Harbor.  

Due to timely reporting, quick actions of responders and interagency coordination, all five teenagers avoided life-threatening injury and only suffered minor to moderate hypothermia.  The water temperature on the surface of the lake was approximately 55 degrees. 

Ranger Jennifer Langel was the incident commander for the park.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV
Drowning, Near-Drowning Occur On Same Day

Rangers dealt with a drowning and a near-drowning on Lake Mohave on Sunday, June 15th.

The first incident occurred at Cabinsite Point. A 37-year-old man was swimming across the cove there to retrieve an inflatable raft for his daughter when he began to struggle and subsequently disappeared underwater. He was not wearing a life jacket. Local divers who were training in the area recovered his body approximately 40 feet below the surface. CPR was begun, but was ultimately unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at Western Arizona Regional Medical Center. 

Later in the day, rangers received a call concerning a possible drowning at Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mohave. An 18-year-old had swum approximately 50 yards from shore when he began having difficulty in the choppy waters and started shouting for help. He was reportedly submerged for a minute before two visitors on a jet ski pulled him onboard and took him to shore. Witnesses on shore notified the NPS within minutes of the incident. Rangers and medics arrived and were able to successfully treat him. He also was not wearing a life jacket.

Cape Cod National Seashore (MA)

Visitor Drowns Off Park Shoreline

On the morning of June 22nd, a 27-year-old California man drowned while attempting to swim from a sandbar to shore approximately two miles south of Race Point Beach within the boundaries of Cape Cod National Seashore. 

Rangers, lifeguards and Provincetown fire and rescue personnel responded, took over CPR from other park visitors and utilized an AED, but were unable to revive him.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – NV

Man Falls From Boat And Drowns In Lake

The body of a 36-year-old Las Vegas man who disappeared in the lake near Callville Bay Marina on the evening of Wednesday, July 2nd, was found by divers in 15 feet of water the following afternoon.

The park received the initial call just before 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The caller reported that the man fell off the front of a boat and disappeared underwater.

Rangers and concessions security personnel responded and began an immediate search from the point where he was last seen. The search resumed on Thursday with the assistance of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Search and Rescue Dive Team.

Witnesses reported that the man had been drinking and wasn’t wearing a life jacket. 

Hikers rescued after night out –

Lost hiker rescued –

Missing tuber –

Missing swimmer –

Search suspended for missing man –

Hikers rescued after getting stuck on cliff –

Lost, barefoot hiker rescued –

Teen drowns at state park –

Injured hiker rescued from cliff

Missing teens rescued –

SAR resumes for missing hiker –

Dehydrated hiker rescued from Pacific Crest Trail –

Missing kayakers rescued –

Technical rescue for injured hiker

School group rescued –

Family rescued after vehicle gets stuck in mud –

Injured climber rescued after fall –

Conservation officers conduct multiple rescues in White Mountains –

Party of eight rescued off mountain –



2 thoughts on “Survival Weekly – 7/15/14…

  1. Mike

    This has been an interesting exercise. Thanks for all the effort. And the ‘Whistlemania’ moniker, along with the whistle-head wrestling action figures… inspired.

    1. bigpigoutdoors Post author

      Thanks Mike and your welcome. I am a big mindset guy, so defining the real risks puts you way ahead of the curve and I enjoy the research for my classes.
      Setting up the matches with my step-daughter is almost as fun as testing them!!


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