Deschutes SO SAR helps lost hiker near Broken Top

Redmond woman lost trail in the early-season snow

BEND, Ore. - Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue came to the aid of a Redmond woman who got lost hiking near Broken Top, but it took until early Thursday to find her, huddled by a warming fire, officials said.

Around 4:40 p.m. on Wednesday, 911 dispatchers got a non-emergency call from Vanessa Collier, 39, who said she'd been hiking for two to three hours on the Tam McArthur Rim trail near Broken Top and was lost, said sheriff's Lt. Bryan Husband. 

Collier advised she was dressed for the weather and had food and water, but her shoes were wet. Collier's cell phone battery at the time of call was at 25 percent.

The call was lost, and dispatch received a 911 call from Collier who reported her cell phone battery was now 20 percent, but she had a portable charger that would be able to extend the battery's life.

Collier was patched through to a special services deputy, who tried to help orient her as to her whereabouts, as well as made a plan to pick her up at the Broken Top trailhead, south of her current location.

The cell reception at Collier's location was poor and attempts to text Collier additional maps or extraction routes were unsuccessful, Husband said.

About an hour later, dispatchers received a 911 hang-up call from Collier. It was later learned her charging device was not functional and her cell phone battery had died.

Three DCSO Search And Rescue volunteers and two deputies responded to the last known location for Collier and began searching into the night, Husband said.

Although the trail where Collier had begun her hike at Three Creeks Trailhead was dry, the trail near the bottom of Broken Top was covered in snow. Collier had lost the trail in the snow.

The DCSO SAR volunteers were able to find Collier's tracks in the snow and follow them back to the main trail, where they were undetectable among the other tracks of other hikers.

An AirLink helicopter assisted by joining the search, their standard flight crew accompanied by a SAR volunteer spotter.

Around 2:30 a.m., a deputy found Collier at the Todd Lake Trailhead. She had successfully started a small warming fire and was appropriately waiting for one of the search teams to locate her at the trailhead. Collier was in good physical condition, Husband said.

The lieutenant said the sheriff's office wants to remind those that recreate outdoors to prepare accordingly for your activity.

Some considerations include proper clothing for day and night conditions in your environment, even if you don't expect to be out overnight. Ensure you have adequate water and food, topographical trail maps, extra batteries or charging options for phones or GPS units. Bring a light source and a signaling device.

Also, seek out information regarding the area and what may be encountered, such as current and projected weather conditions as well as terrain in the area. Tell someone where you are going, what you will be taking with you and when you plan to return. Collier had done several of these things which helped in locating her.

"The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office strongly encourages those recreating in the outdoors to do so with a partner(s) and not separate," Husband said in a news release.

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