Second Search

Rescuers find two hikers in Starvation Creek

For the second time in three weeks, the Hood River County Sheriff's Office rescued hikers who became lost in the Starvation Creek drainage.

Jesse Sweet, 28, and Sriharsha Vemana, 29, both of Portland, were found uninjured about noon March 3 after they were forced to spent a cold night in the forest. They had called 9-1-1 for help about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday after being unable to climb out of a steep ravine about two miles from the trailhead.

Sheriff Joe Wampler sent out two planes and a team of Crag Rats, the local search group, to scout for the two men at first light. He said the lost hikers had just managed to report the overhead flight of a plane to pinpoint their whereabouts when their cell phone died from a low battery. Using mountaineering gear, the Crag Rats were able to traverse the steep rock walls and hoist the cold and dehydrated subjects to safety.

Wampler said the two men made many of the same classic mistakes as the Feb. 17 case involving Pippa Brode, 22, of Portland. Like Brode, the Portland duo headed out on the 14-mile round-trip journey from the trailhead, about 10 miles west of Hood River, to Mt. Defiance -- but didn't stay the course on the return trip.

All three hikers headed into the Starvation Creek drainage and lost valuable daylight time battling the brush and rugged terrain, according to Wampler.

One key difference, said Wampler, was that Brode, accompanied by her Golden Labrador Retriever, had prepared only for a day trip but Sweet and Vemana were dressed warmly and had a small store of food and water to get them through the night.

However, he said none of the involved parties were carrying fire starting supplies, which would have aided greatly in their comfort and rescue visibility. He said all three parties did have a communication device and were able to call for help, which did save hours of valuable search time.

Wampler said both recent rescues underscore the need for hikers to stay on the trail and, if there was snow blanketing the ground, retrace their exact footsteps back down the mountain. He said the Gorge terrain can be very inhospitable and outdoor enthusiasts should never attempt to follow a drainage downhill because, as in the cases of Brode, Sweet and Vemana, it might be laced with toppled trees, waterfalls and other natural barriers.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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