SALEM, Ore. – Working with the Marion County Sherriff’s Office on two different search and rescue (SAR) incidents, an Oregon Army National Guard HH-60M Black Hawk Helicopter helped save two stranded individuals on October 26, 2023, near Mt. Jefferson in the Jeff Park Wilderness area located in Marion County, Oregon.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office received a notification from the father of a missing male Australian mountain biker, routed through the consulate in Sydney, Australia, and stated that his son had texted him from Oregon and was stranded without cold weather gear. The mountain biker was stuck in a four to five-foot snowdrift along a trail near Hawk Mountain, Oregon. He was able to shelter in place overnight inside an existing hiking trail structure.
In a separate incident, a female hiker on the Pacific Coast Trail was caught in whiteout conditions for two days. She initially activated her In-Reach GPS device on Tuesday, Oct. 24, but ground crews were unable to reach her location due to the snowdrifts and fallen trees.
The State SAR and Oregon Army National Guard Aviation combined the two orders and airlifted both individuals on the same mission, as the two locations were only separated in distance by 11.5 miles – within the Jeff Park Wilderness area. The HH-60M crew flew them to the Detroit Lake Ranger Station where they received medical attention before being flown to Salem.
“The weather conditions delayed the operation because of the heavy snow and whiteout conditions,” said Scott Lucas, State SAR Coordinator, with the Oregon Department of Emergency Management. “Because the two locations were near each other, the helicopter was able to pick them both up on the same mission and take them to the ranger station together.”