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Leap injures Eagle Creek cliff jumper Teamwork and blankets help July 4 rescue

By KIRBY NEUMANN-REA

News editor

July 6, 2005

Rescuers took a cold swim on a hot day to bring an injured 17-year-old male out of the narrow Eagle Creek canyon south of Cascade Locks Monday.

David Green, 17, from Tampa, Fla., apparently jumped off a 60-foot cliff into the waterfall area known as the Lower Punch Bowl.

“There were a bunch of kids jumping off,” Wampler said.

The rescue started at 3 p.m. Monday and it was 9 p.m. before the operation concluded, Wampler said. About 25 rescuers responded, first hiking in two miles and then swimming across the creek to the west side to reach the youth.

Crag Rat Christopher Van Tilburg said, “It was one of the most difficult rescues I’ve ever done.” Assisting Hood River County deputies were search and rescue volunteers including Crag Rats, deputies and Explorers from Multnomah County, and the U.S. Forest Service. Also, Corbett Fire Department brought a raft and Hood River Fire Department provided flotation devices.

Stan Hinatsu of the United States Forest Service said the youths went down an unauthorized trail to reach the edge of the cliff.

“They’re jumping from such a high height, there’s a point where if you don’t know how to land correctly and it’s like hitting cement,” Hinatsu said. “He (Green) didn’t appear to hit the side or anything under the water, but he appeared to hit awkwardly. Folks need before they engage in high risk activities to know what they are doing and how to do it.”

Wampler said Green was alert and conscious, but in great pain. Green declined comment Tuesday morning when telephoned at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland.

“The reason we hauled him out was he wasn’t moving too well,” Wampler said. “A doctor on scene suspected a compression fracture and broken ribs.”

Wampler said the plan initially was to carry the victim out of the narrow canyon and down the trail.

“To haul him across the creek, anyone with a back injury, that’s a major undertaking,” Wampler said. “We decided it was a bit of a technical climb out of there so we called in the National Guard to come pluck him out.”

The victim was transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital by Oregon National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter from the Army Aviation Support Facility in Salem, Ore.

“They had to swim and take their gear across, and it was late in the afternoon and even though it was a beautiful day they were freezing,” Wampler said.

Tilburg describe the rescue this way:

“After running two miles up the trail with my 30-pounds of equipment I had to swim about 50 yards across the plunge pool and around the corner, carrying my pack over my head.

When I got to the scene I was concerned that a rope rescue would be very difficult; we put him on a floating stretcher, with full spine precaution, and swam him across the plunge pool.” Van Tilburg said there were constant ripples across the 20-foot-deep frigid water.

“It was cold, and the patient was half in the water, too. Luckily everyone had planned ahead so as soon as we swam across we were able to get dry blankets on him,” Van Tilburg said.

“It was difficult to swim across but also difficult because everyone was cold. I was cold for six hours.

“It was a cooperative effort between our efforts and the (National Guard) and the volunteer park rangers and Forest Service. We could have been there all night,” Van Tilburg said.

Hinatsu said the danger and difficulty of the rescue points out the need for hikers to be careful and know where they are going.

“Some people think it only effects them, but obviously it is not just them, but also a lot of people and expensive equipment involved in the rescue,” Hinatsu said.

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