A 65-year-old Yakima man who became lost in the Oak Creek wildlife area after crashing his vehicle and spending the night outdoors was rescued the next day, authorities said.
The man called the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office about 7:15 a.m. Thursday, saying he was lost in the wildlife area and couldn’t get out. He said he was diabetic and didn’t have his medication with him, according to a news release from sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Cameron, search and rescue coordinator for the sheriff’s office.
His ordeal began on Tuesday, when the man tried to drive to Bear Lake in the wildlife area, wrecked his vehicle and it became stuck. He then followed Oak Creek downstream. When it got dark, the man fired three shots from his .22 caliber rifle, which is a signal for distress. Another person nearby fired three shots and the two responded back and forth to confirm the distress signal.
The man stayed out overnight, continuing to walk downstream, and found a place with some cell phone reception the next morning and called for search and rescue, Cameron said.
“Dispatchers were initially unable to obtain GPS coordinates from a ping of the man’s cellphone but continued attempts until coordinates were found,” he said. “Search and Rescue rallied in the general area of the ping and mountain rescue was sent out.”
Mountain rescue members crossed steep terrain and found the man, who wasn’t injured. He was taken to a spot for extraction by the ATV team.
While heading to his location, one of the search and rescue members wrecked his ATV. He suffered multiple broken ribs and both lungs were punctured, Cameron said. Mountain rescue members, who are medical experts, and other search and rescue members provided medical care and got him out to meet with an ambulance. He was later flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle because of the extent of his injuries.
The 65-year-old man was taken home. Authorities stressed that distress signals should always be taken seriously and reported as soon as possible.
“In this case the subject did not suffer any injuries, but this is not always the outcome,” Cameron said.
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