Hiker search, S. Sister rescue keep Deschutes SAR busy

Both efforts end in success on summer's first day

SISTERS, Ore. - The first full day of summer was a busy one for Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue crews, first called out Wednesday afternoon to find a missing hiker, then to rescue a Florida teen injured during the descent after a group climb of South Sister.

Around 12:35 p.m., SAR was contacted by an Oregon State Police trooper who had been contacted by Bend hiker Dawn Farber, 52, at the Six Lakes Trailhead, south of Elk Lake and southwest of Bend, said Lt. Bryan Husband, special services coordinator.

Farber said she’d been hiking with her friend, Gina Tassone, 53, at Lucky Lake and they became separated after their dog got loose and ran off. Farber hiked back to their vehicle and waited for Tassone, who didn’t return, Husband said. Farber drove the vehicle to the trailhead for better cellphone reception and located the OSP trooper.

A total of 11 SAR volunteers were deployed, including a horse team.

Just after 3 p.m., someone else told deputies they’d met a woman matching Tassone’s description who appeared to be stranded and in need of help, but then walked away on the Cascade Lakes Highway, south of Lucky Lake, Husband said.

SAR teams regrouped and began searching roads in the area around Tassone’s last known location.

Shortly after 5 p.m., the sheriff’s office learned Tassone had gotten a ride into Bend from someone traveling through the area and was unhurt, Husband said.

Then, around 4:30 p.m., dispatchers got a call reporting an injured climber on South Sister, Husband said.

A group of eight students and two instructors with the outdoor adventure school Outward Bound reported one of their students, a 16-year-old boy from Florida, had suffered a non-life-threatening injury while the group descended from a climb of South Sister and would need help getting back down the mountain, Husband said.

The rescue effort included 20 SAR volunteers helping in various ways. AirLink provided a helicopter to take four SAR mountain rescue unit-medical team members to the injured teen’s location, initially at about 8,200 elevation on the 10,358-foot peak, Husband said.

Outward Bound instructors were able to stabilize the teen and move him to a lower elevation before rescuers arrived. Husband said SAR volunteers and Outward Bound staff were able to move the boy down to AirLink’s landing spot, and he was flown to St. Charles Bend for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. The rescue operation concluded around 8:45 p.m., just as night fell, Husband said.

Husband said the sheriff’s office wants to remind those who recreate outdoors to prepare accordingly, including proper clothing for both day and night conditions, even if you don’t expect to be out overnight.

Ensure you have adequate water and food, topographical trail maps and extra batteries or charging options for phones or GPS units, he said – and bring a light source and a signaling device.

The lieutenant also recommended you seek out information about conditions in the area, such as current and projected weather and the terrain. Tell someone where you are going, what you will be taking with you and when you plan to return, Husband said. Also, have a location identified with your partner where you will meet, if you get separated.

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