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Careful Out There: Falling Trees, Helicopter Rescues, and a Continuing Search

Your accident and survival report for the week of August 26th to September 3rd

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Helicopter Rescues Unprepared Hiker

The California Highway Patrol sent a helicopter to rescue a hiker who ventured away from his family while camping in Alpine County. The man allegedly carried only a lighter, and when he did not return to camp on Tuesday night, his family called Search and Rescue. The helicopter located the man, who was uninjured, on Wednesday morning. Lesson learned: If you choose to hike alone, make sure you know where you are going, leave an itinerary with others, and pack the appropriate gear

PCT Thru-Hiker Killed by Fallen Tree

Finn Bastian, 28, was killed in southern Washington last week when a tree fell on him while crossing a bridge. His two hiking companions called 911, but Search and Rescue crews were unable to revive him. Bastian had hiked from the PCT’s southern terminus. Lesson learned: Remain aware of your surroundings as you hike. Treefall and other dangers can be unpredictable—in this case, rot was to blame for the incident, not wind or weather—so always have an emergency plan in place by scoping evacuation routes. 

Ohio Hiker’s Death Marks Third in Park this Summer

A 44-year-old woman died on Monday when a tree branch fell on her in Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park. Victoria Schafer’s death was the third casualty in the park this summer. Just last weekend, a 22-year-old hiker fell to his death after losing his balance from the rim of the 75-foot-tall Old Man’s Cave. In June, the body of a woman was found in a remote part of the park—the cause of death has not been disclosed. Lesson learned: Beware on windy days and in areas where dead trees are abundant. Take caution near cliff edges and steep drop-offs.

Two Hikers Home Safe after a Week in the Washington Cascades

David James, 59, and Buster Cabe, 64, set out on August 16th for a 5-day backpacking trip on Washington’s Downey Creek Trail. The two hikers got lost after leaving their overnight gear behind and taking a shortcut to go fishing. The men eventually eventually ran out of food. They spent days foraging berries and mushrooms and huddling together for warmth. Shortly before they were rescued on Wednesday, August 28th, the men were separated. Both James and Cabe were spotted by a helicopter on Wednesday afternoon, and were transported to safety where they were treated for severe dehydration. Lesson learned: Avoid taking shortcuts unless you are intimately familiar with the terrain, and never leave behind gear you may need in case of an emergency. Carrying a BPS device or a Personal Locator Beacon can increase your odds of rescue if you become lost or injured.

Search Continues for Missing Nevada Hiker 

Red Rock Search and Rescue continues to look for Daniel Reza, 35, who was reported missing on August 25th in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas. Reza’s car was located at the trailhead to Mt. Charleston. Lesson learned: Navigating in the desert can be more difficult than navigation elsewhere. Brush up on your desert navigation skills, and always let someone know where you are headed.  

The wilderness is full of dangers. Raging rivers, unpredictable bears, huge avalanches—no matter how prepared you are, a walk in the woods can go from safe to disastrous in the blink of an eye. Out Alive is BACKPACKER’s podcast about real people who survived the unsurvivable. Learn what went wrong, what went right, and how you can increase your odds if the unimaginable happens to you. Listen now, and stay safe.

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