Fallen, injured teen work crew member rescued
Girl, 16, fell down steep slope on Pole Creek Trail
A 16-year-old girl on a youth work crew doing trail maintenance in the fire-hit Pole Creek area southwest of Sisters tumbled down a steep hill Tuesday afternoon, suffering injuries that prompted a nearly four-hour air and ground rescue effort, authorities said.
The unidentified teen was flown by AirLink helicopter to St. Charles Bend with injuries not believed to be life-threatening, Deschutes County sheriff's deputies said.
Around 1:30 p.m., Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue got a cellphone call from Forest Service Wilderness Ranger Chris Sabo, reporting the injury of a teen who fell down a 60-degree slope, according to a news release from Deputy Jim Whitcomb, assistant SAR coordinator and Lt. Scott Shelton, SAR coordinator.
"What we did know at the time is that the injuries were quite severe, that she needed immediate evacuation from the area," Shelton said at the scene.
Based on the location, five miles up the trail from the Pole Creek Trailhead, AirLink was called in.
The helicopter was able to bring a SAR member and a Forest Service law enforcement officer, along with a backboard and a wheeled litter to a landing zone by about 3:25 p.m..
From the landing zone, it was about a one-mile hike down a steep slope with a 500-foot elevation change to reach the girl, they said.
Meanwhile, 13 SAR members hiked in to assist a possible ground removal of the injured teen. The five-mile trip took about two hours, with a 1,300-foot elevation gain and two water crossings, Whitcomb and Shelton said.
"We also had the military on standby. They were willing to fly over the mountain if we needed," Shelton said. "So we had several air options available to us."
The Forest Service also had trail rangers, hand crews and other resources en route to assist, they said.
The teen was evaluated and put on a backboard, then taken by wheeled litter back up to the landing zone by Forest Service trail crew and SAR members. The helicopter took off for the hospital around 5:20 p.m.
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