Injured hiker airlifted to hospital after falling 100 feet into embankment
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, Ore. (KATU) - The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office says a National Guard helicopter has airlifted an injured hiker to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. The 66-year-old woman tumbled 100 feet down a steep embankment in the Columbia Gorge Saturday afternoon.
The rescue was made near Yeon State Park.
The search ended early, but the difficult part was getting her out. She was in a group of 13 hikers who went off-trail. They were being led by Rick Johnson.
"I heard a lot of screaming. I turned around and saw her rolling. She was rolling, rolling, rolling," said Johnson. "I've had broken arms, lost hiker - things like that - but this is by far the worst."
Dr. Mark Hosko was also among the group. He was able to get her into an open area and evaluate her condition.
"She was semi-lucid, so she was able to respond, very disoriented, but was responding," said Hosko.
Hosko said she suffered some fractured ribs and cuts to her face, but she remained conscious the entire time. The fear was she had hit her head on a tree and may be suffering a concussion.
The National Guard's helicopter was blocked by cloud cover until after sunset. The air rescue was further complicated by the steep hillside.
People who know the woman called her an experienced hiker. They say Saturday's fall shows safety is never guaranteed.
"I'm kind of really surprised that she fell, but anybody can fall. It's kind of the risk we take," said Johnson.
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office would like to remind hikers to be smart and stay on the trail. Lt. Chad Gaidos says because the woman stayed in the area, it sped up the rescue process.
"These are treacherous places to hike, even when you're on the trail, so anytime you're off-trail, it further complicates things," he said. "It also makes the rescue very difficult."