Umatilla Co. search-and-rescue team saves man trapped upside down in creek

BAKER COUNTY, Wash. -- A Umatilla County search-and-rescue team saved a man's life on Saturday, Oct. 5 after he crashed into a creek and became trapped upside down in his vehicle in eastern Oregon. 

The Umatilla County Sheriff's Office reported that three of their SAR team members were helping Baker County deputies search for a missing hunter when they came across an overturned vehicle in the East Fork of Eagle Creek. 

The team members were driving across a bridge over the creek when they heard the hunter honking his horn. They found his vehicle upside down in the water with him trapped inside. 

The doors of the vehicle were jammed, preventing the hunter from getting out. 

"He was engulfed by very cold, fast moving water and was extremely hypothermic, and had an injury to his shoulder," deputies said. "The man told the rescuers he had been trapped in the creek for about 45 minutes."

The team used a radio to call for help and started trying to free the man. Baker County Sheriff Travis Ash arrived at the scene a short time later.

Using a car jack, an ax and other tools, they were able to pry open the door and rescue the hunter. He was treated before being transported to the hospital by a Life Flight helicopter. 

The sheriff's office said it's likely the man would have died if he stayed in the cold water much longer.


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