Search and rescue team saves man lost overnight in Oak Creek Wildlife Area

The rescue effort wasn't without sacrifice as one member of the SAR team suffered a serious injury.
Oak Creek Wildlife Area
Image credit: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Facebook

YAKIMA, Wash. — A 65-year-old man was left to fend for himself at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area overnight after car damages and a health scare prevented him from reaching safety.

According to a press release issued by a deputy coordinator from the Yakima County Search and Rescue team, the county sheriff’s office received a call around 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, June 3 from the unnamed man who was stranded at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

However, this man’s journey began on June 2 when he attempted to drive to Bear Lake. According to the county sheriff’s office, driving conditions forced the man’s vehicle to get stuck in a car wreck. To make matters worse, the diabetic man did not have access to his medication.

He followed Oak Creek downstream as darkness loomed and eventually signaled for help by firing his .22 caliber rifle three times. This universal distress signal was responded to by another nearby person who fired three shots. They returned shots to communicate with each other, but the authorities were not informed and the man continued downstream.

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The following day (June 3), the man found a cell phone signal and placed a call to 911, prompting Yakima County Search and Rescue teams to spring into action. Dispatchers struggled to pinpoint his location using GPS signal for some time until finally, they broke through and the Ping and Mountain Rescue team was deployed to the general area. Mountain Rescue members traversed steep and treacherous conditions to locate the man before assessing potential injures, of which there were none, and called for extraction by an ATV team.

While on their way, one of the Search and Rescue extract team members wrecked his ATV and suffered multiple broken ribs which punctured his lungs. Some of the Mountain Rescue team members were trained medical doctors who were able to provide emergency first aid as more medics were called. The Search and Rescue member was flown to Harbor View Medical Center. His status has not been updated at the time of this post.

However, the 65-year-old man was extracted and taken to his home without incident thanks to the efforts of these local first responders.

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