Deschutes County

Ill Iowa hiker rescued in Three Sisters Wilderness

Deschutes Sheriff's SAR brings her out in darkness

An Iowa woman hiking with her husband near the Pacific Crest Trail west of Sisters made a 911 call for help Tuesday night after she became seriously ill, prompting a nighttime rescue effort that ended more than seven hours later, authorities said.

Deschutes County 911 received the call for help around 9:15 p.m. from Mary Jonson, 69, who said she and husband Pete Johnson, 78, of Sioux City, Iowa, were backpacking in the area of South Matthieu Lake, near the Pacific Crest Trail, when she became severely ill and continue not continue her trek, said Deputy Jeff Winters, assistant Search and Rescue coordinator.

The area is north of the North Sister in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, about 12 miles southwest of Sisters

Johnson said she and her husband left the Lava Camp Lake trailhead around 1 p.m. Tuesday, hiking south about three miles to their current location. She said she didn't have cell service and had borrowed another hiker's phone to make the 911 call.

The Johnsons were well-equipped for their hike, Winters said, but due to her illness, she sought help getting them out of the wilderness.

Sheriff's Search and Rescue was notified a short time later, and by around 11:15 p.m., a team of 11 SAR volunteers with medical training and backcountry experience, along with a deputy, had assembled at the agency's headquarters, forming a plan to bring the woman out.

Using GPS coordinates from the assisting hiker's phone, Johnson's location was determined. Shortly after midnight, nine volunteers began the nearly three-mile hike in the dark to her location, bringing a wheeled litter for her transport.

Searchers arrived in the area around 1:30 a.m. and made contact with Johnson, who they assessed and determined could be immediately removed from the area, Winters said. Shortly after 2 a.m., they secured Johnson in the wheeled litter and began their return hike to the trailhead, where they arrived shortly after 4:30 a.m.

Once reaching safety, Johnson refused treatment from medics and said she would seek her own medical care, the deputy said.

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