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Rescues, gunshot reports keep Mount Rainier staff busy on July 21

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on July 30, 2012 at 8:48 am |
July 30, 2012 8:48 am

A number of incidents on July 21 had staffers at Mount Rainier National Park busy, according to a report released this morning.

It began when a 42-year old man who had taken a short fall near the Disappointment Cleaver walked into the Camp Muir high camp in mid-afternoon seeking help from the climbing rangers. They immediately provided care and organized a litter evacuation of the climber down the Muir Snowfield.

Fifteen minutes later, park dispatch received a 911 call from a concerned parent who reported that her 16-year-old son was climbing with a church group on the Muir Snowfield when he fell and hit his head. A second 911 call came in shortly thereafter from a descending climber who reported that he had found the boy on the ground with no one around. The boy was confused and complaining of vision problems, a head injury, and rib pain. That call became the priority for the Camp Muir staff.

With two incidents within the Camp Muir response area, it became clear that local rescue resources would be exceeded. The incidents were combined into to one Type III incident and managed by staffers based at Longmire.

The boy was transported by sled and skis about 2,000 feet down the Muir Snowfield to the nearest landing zone. From there he was airlifted by Northwest Medical Helicopters to Harborview Trauma Center in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the 42-year-old man was carried on a litter down the 4,000 vertical feet from Camp Muir to Paradise. More than 30 SAR personnel were involved and the missions took over eight hours to complete.

Meanwhile, around 4:30 p.m., park dispatch received a 911 call from a hiker near Tatoosh Lakes outside the park boundary reporting that her companion had injured his arm and head and was bleeding from his leg after falling on steep snow. She also said that he was cold and stuck. The call was transferred to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, but park assistance was offered due the remote location and the severity of reported injuries. A ground and air rescue was launched with Mount Rainier staff and a Coast Guard helicopter. In waning daylight, the man was taken out by the Coast Guard helicopter. Park staff returned to the trailhead and were off duty by midnight.

Finally, just after 8 p.m., 10-12 rapid fire gunshots were heard in the area just below Paradise. Four law enforcement rangers responded and searched several facilities, but no suspects were found. Visitors and park staff from different locations in the Paradise area heard the shots but the persons responsible were not found.

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