Survival Weekly – 7/28/14…


Miscommunication leads to search –

SAR team member suffers medical emergency during mission –

Gates Of The Arctic National Park & Preserve (AK)
Backpacker Rescued From Kobuk River Headwaters

During the early hours of July 21st, rangers were notified that Andrew Corey of Anchorage, Alaska, had activated his inReach device (a satellite emergency notification device) and that he was seeking rescue.

The inReach device indicated that Corey was located on the headwaters of the Kobuk River. Text communications from Corey indicated that he had flipped his pack raft, that he was hypothermic, and that he was requesting assistance.

Rangers coordinated rescue efforts with Brooks Range Aviation and Kingdom Air Corps personnel in a hasty search effort and ultimately worked with the Alaska National Guard’s Rescue Coordination Center in Corey’s recovery.

Corey planned to travel from the Dalton Highway to Kotzebue, Alaska, on a solo backpacking and pack raft trip and had been in the backcountry for about 29 days. Travel conditions caused Corey to cut short his initial planned trip and he was headed to Walker Lake for an early pickup when he flipped his pack raft in the Kobuk River.

Weather conditions and Corey’s location prevented the first attempts at rescue and delayed his recovery until about 2 p.m. He was found to be in good condition on a gravel bar. He was flown to Bettles, where he declined medical attention.

Mount Rainier National Park (WA)
Major Search For Missing Hiker Unsuccessful

On Saturday, July 12th, Edwin Birch, 64, of Tacoma, Washington, set out with his son to hike a 19-mile stretch of the Wonderland Trail. 

Birch dropped his son off at White River and then drove to the Box Canyon trailhead. The plan was for the son to hike south to Box Canyon, with Birch hiking north to White River, crossing paths on the trail midway.  Around 3:30 p.m., father and son intersected on the trail at an elevation of approximately 6,600 feet near Indian Bar, then continued on their respective ways. 

After arriving at the Box Canyon trailhead around midnight, the son retrieved the car and drove to pick up his father at White River. When his father did not appear, he notified park rangers at the White River Campground at 1:30 a.m. 

Formal search operations were begun on Sunday morning and continued for six days. Ground operations included 106 searchers – NPS rangers, volunteers from Bellingham, Central Washington, Everett, Inland, Olympic, Portland, Seattle, Skagit, and Tacoma Mountain Rescue, and rescue dog teams from Everett, Kittitas, and Lewis Mountain Rescue.

Participating in air operations were Northwest Helicopters, CH-47 Chinook aircraft from the 214th US Air Reserve out of Joint Base Lewis McChord, and a FLIR/NVG equipped Blackhawk from CBP’s Marine Division in Bellingham.

The search was concentrated in the drainages surrounding the point last seen and the intended travel route. No signs or clues of Birch’s whereabouts were discovered.  On July 19th, the search operation transitioned to a continuous limited search.  All searchers are out of the field.  The park will continue to look for Birch, with rangers checking the area and interviewing hikers as part of their normal patrol duties.

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Hiker Killed In Fall Near Inspiration Point

The body of an overdue hiker was discovered on Tuesday afternoon near the mouth of Cascade Canyon.

Will Cornyn, 36, of San Francisco, California, did not have a pulse when one of several search teams found him lying below a steep cliff band near Inspiration Point. He was pronounced dead at the scene by park EMTs in consultation with the park’s medical director.

Cornyn headed out late on Sunday afternoon from the southeast shore of Jenny Lake with the goal of hiking to Lake Solitude in the North Fork of Cascade Canyon. He did not return to his campsite at Jenny Lake Sunday evening and was reported overdue by his girlfriend at noon on Monday. Cornyn had not planned on an overnight stay in the backcountry and did not carry equipment necessary for spending a night in the mountains.

 A hasty search was conducted on Monday afternoon by rangers who were on routine patrol and additional rangers were called into service. Two rangers also flew in the Teton Interagency contract helicopter to conduct an aerial search until darkness prevented further efforts. The aerial search was temporarily delayed by intense thunderstorms that passed across the Teton Range and battered the peaks with heavy rain, strong winds and lightning strikes.

Seventy-four people gathered early Tuesday morning to begin a full-scale search for the missing hiker.  Park employees and Teton Interagency fire personnel—plus a Teton Interagency helitak crew, a Teton Interagency contract helicopter, four search dog teams from Wyoming K-9 and JH Search Dogs, and several park volunteers—thoroughly searched  numerous backcountry locations in Cascade Canyon and Paintbrush Canyon and surrounding areas in a coordinated effort to locate the overdue hiker.

After nearly six hours, one of 19 assigned search parties discovered Cornyn. His body was extricated from Inspiration Point via a helicopter long-line and turned over to the Teton County coroner.

Grand Teton National Park (WY)
Seriously Injured Hiker Evacuated From Garnet Canyon

A backcountry hiker received a serious injury to her leg as she jumped from a rock while descending the Cache Couloir above the Platforms in Garnet Canyon last Sunday afternoon. 

After jumping from the rock, the woman was unable to move her leg. A member of her hiking party of five dialed 911 to report the need for assistance. Rangers launched a short-haul rescue operation to extricate the 23-year-old woman with assistance from a Teton Interagency contract helicopter.

The helicopter flew three rangers into Garnet Canyon on a reconnaissance flight to pinpoint the woman’s location. They soon spotted her and the pilot landed in Garnet Meadows and dropped off the rangers. They were joined by two other rangers who hiked in, arriving around 8 p.m.

A decision was made to short-haul the woman via an aerial evacuation suit, with an attending rescuer, to the Jenny Lake rescue cache at Lupine Meadows. The ship landed there a half hour later and the woman was taken to St. John’s Medical Center for further care.

The woman and members of her party told rangers that they did not have specific hiking plans for the day. Because they were unsure of their exact location when the accident occurred, rescuers had to use ‘pings’ from three separate cell phone calls to obtain GPS coordinates. Only the third call provided accurate coordinates.

Lake Mead NRA – AZ, NV
Two Rescued, Two Missing In Separate Same-Day Incidents

On July 20th, rangers rescued two visitors and searched for two swimmers who are still missing.

Around 11 a.m., dispatch received a 911 call reporting that a woman was having difficulty breathing while hiking in White Rock Canyon. Rangers located her and hiked her out to safety. She refused medical assistance.

Shortly thereafter, a visitor notified a ranger that a person was missing at Lake Mohave south of Willow Beach. Later reports indicated that a man had jumped off a boat to go swimming and was last seen going underwater. Rangers are continuing to search the area with the assistance of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue Dive Team.

Around 2 p.m., a 911 call came in reporting a near drowning at Ski Cove on Lake Mohave. Rangers and medics responded. The man was flown to a Las Vegas hospital by Mercy Air, where he is expected to recover.

Twenty minutes later, dispatch received another 911 call, this one reporting that a man went missing while swimming near Boulder Islands on Lake Mead. Rangers, Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens and members of the Metro Search and Rescue Dive Team are searching for him.

All incidents are under investigation. In the water-related cases, none of the victims was wearing a life jacket. Winds were gusting between 20-30 miles per hour throughout the afternoon.

Buffalo National Scenic River (AR)
Seriously Injured Hiker Evacuated From Backcountry

On the evening of July 14th, an 18-year-old Jonesboro, Arkansas, man slipped and fell while attempting to cross a rock gap at the top of Eden Falls off the  Lost Valley trail. He took an initial fall of 10 feet before he was stopped momentarily by a ledge, but the wet conditions caused him to once again slip and fall another 15 to 20 feet.  

His hiking companion lost sight of him after the final fall but was assisted in reaching him by two University of Arkansas students who were also hiking in the area. Due to lack of cellular coverage, other hikers traveled out from Lost Valley to call Buffalo National River dispatch.  

Once the page was received, Buffalo River Search and Rescue (BUFFSAR) team members were mobilized, with the three young men assisting team members with the recovery. BUFFSAR volunteer and EMT Chad Wilt was the first rescuer to  arrive at Lost Valley and was led to the victim’s location in a slot canyon by the two assisting hikers. Although badly injured, the victim was conscious, but couldn’t remember the events of the fall.

Those assisting with the search and rescue efforts were Air Evac, Mennonite Services, North Arkansas Medical Regional Medical Center EMS, Carroll County, Mount Sherman Volunteer Fire Department, and Ponca Volunteer Fire Department.

The teams performed a high angle rescue to bring the victim back along the trail that leads to the top of Eden Falls. He was then evacuated – partly by litter team and partly by all-terrain vehicle and litter trailer – to the trailhead. From there he was transported by ambulance to Compton and then air evacuated to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.  

At the time of the report late last week, he was in intensive care but in stable condition. The incident was managed under a unified command system between the National Park Service and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (AZ,UT)
Girl Injured By Boat Propeller

A 12-year-old girl visiting from Israel was struck by a boat propeller and seriously injured on July 23rd.

The injury occurred when she was ejected from the back of a moving powerboat while holding onto an inflatable inner tube. She sustained a severe lower leg injury when hit by the boat’s propeller.Coconino County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Classic Aviation responded to the Wahweap main launch ramp. The girl was flown from there to Flagstaff Medical Center.

The incident is currently under investigation by the sheriff’s office.    

Injured climber rescued –

Search called off for missing hiker –

Family of four located during SAR –

Stranded and injured kayakers rescued –

Injured boy rescued from mountain

Stranded hiker spends night out and rescued the following day –

Stranded climbers rescued –



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