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Searchers credited with finding injured hiker

With temperatures in the 20s, hypothermia began to set in

Volunteer searchers are being credited for locating a missing hiker early Sunday after she broke her ankle along a Riverside State Park trail.

Toni Sneva was found about 4 a.m. Sunday after she failed to show up for a hockey game in Spokane on Saturday night, police said.

Family members called the Spokane Police Department, and officers checked locations where she might have gone. A friend found her vehicle near Nine Mile Falls Dam.

A search over three square miles included a sheriff’s helicopter, 30 volunteers, the American Red Cross, medical personnel and Liberty Lake police. A school at Nine Mile was used as a command post.

Sneva, who was wearing lightweight clothing, had injured her ankle and became unable to walk during an afternoon hike. Her cell phone could not make a connection. As the temperature dipped into the 20s, hypothermia began to set in, police said. Sneva sat next to a tree for protection from wind. She threw a bag and an empty juice container toward a nearby trail.

A searcher on an all-terrain vehicle spotted the bag, looked around the area and found Sneva.

Spokane Police Officer Brian Eckersley said in a press release that she might not have survived without the search effort.

Officials said hikers always should carry enough clothing, food and water to survive overnight conditions. A small flashlight and fire starter are recommended. Also, it’s important to tell someone where you are going and when you will return, they said.

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