First responders are encouraging hikers and boaters to be aware of the natural dangers along local trails, rivers and the Pacific Ocean.
The advisory follows a busy weekend for U.S. Coast Guard crews along the Oregon Coast dealing with three separate rescue operations.
The first took place shortly before 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20, when the Curry County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from Callie Ellwood, 28, of Windom, Kansas. She said she was stranded on a rock cliff after sliding down a craggy embankment above the beach.
Sheriff John Ward said Ellwood reported she had parked in a wayside north of Brookings for a walk along a nearby trail. She said she left the trail and traveled through a wooded area to investigate making it to the beach below, then slipped and slid down a steep, rocky embankment.
Ellwood was unable to give the dispatcher her location or the route she had taken to get there, other than to say she had parked her car and walked a few miles north on a coastal trail.
Sheriff’s Dispatch Deputy Synthia Westerman kept Ellwood on the phone with reassurances that she would be rescued. Dispatchers were able to determine a general location by 911 mapping, which showed Ellwood was near House Rock Viewpoint at milepost 351, about six miles north of Brookings.
The Curry County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Rope Team responded to that location, as did a Coast Guard helicopter.
Deputies located Ellwood’s vehicle at the viewpoint. Dan Brattain of Cal-Ore Life Flight was called and offered to search for Ellwood from the air. Sheriff Ward met Brattain at the Brookings Airport and five minutes after departing, they saw Ellwood.
In a press release from Ward, Ellwood was said to be perched precariously on an unstable ridgeline about 300 feet above the rock-strewn beach below. Her location was relayed to the Coast Guard and the county’s search and rescue team.
Sheriff’s deputies and search team members made their way to where Ellwood was trapped and prepared for her rescue. The Coast Guard’s helicopter arrived a few minutes later and notified the ground teams they could safely lift Ellwood from the cliff.
A rescue swimmer was lowered to Ellwood and soon after the helicopter lifted her from the rocks.
She was flown to Brookings Airport, where she declined medical attention. A sheriff’s deputy drove Ellwood to her vehicle at the wayside.
In a second incident on Saturday, Sept. 21, a Coast Guard aircrew hoisted an injured man from Bone Mountain in Coos County.
About 4 p.m., the Sector North Bend Command Center received word from the Coos County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher that an injured hiker reportedly was in distress. Ground searchers had been unable to reach the man’s location.
The MH-65 Dolphin aircrew launched at 4:56 and arrived at 5:11 p.m. to hoist the man and take him to awaiting emergency medical services at Roseburg Regional Airport, where he was treated for exposure and minor injuries. His name had not been released by press time.
A third rescue took place early Sunday morning, Sept. 22, at the Coos Bay jetty, after a man and woman reported their 54-foot commercial fishing vessel had become disabled and drifted into the rocks.
At 12:52 a.m., Sector North Bend received a distress call over VHF-FM radio channel 16 from the fishing vessel Fearless II. The vessel was disabled after striking a submerged object and in danger of drifting onto the jetty at the Coos River entrance.
Sector North Bend directed the launch of both a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew and a 47-foot motor lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Coos Bay.
The lifeboat reached the boat at 1:17 a.m., 13 minutes ahead of the aircrew. The two people aboard the vessel reportedly had jumped into the water and climbed onto the jetty. One person apparently had sustained abrasions and a laceration.
The helicopter crew hoisted the two from the rocks and took them to awaiting emergency medical services at the North Bend Air Station. The names of the two people had not been released at press time.
Debris cleanup from the fishing vessel Fearless II was ongoing Sept. 23. The Coast Guard said salvage of the vessel was not possible because of its current position.