SEATTLE — A Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin aircrew rescue two hikers from the side of a cliff early Sunday near Hoh Head in Olympic National Park.
Olympic National Park Rangers contacted Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound watchstanders at about midnight Sunday requesting air rescue assistance for two people stranded about 60 feet high on a cliff’s ledge after climbing to retreat from rising tides.
Park Rangers requested a Coast Guard helicopter rescue T.A. and R.F. due to their inaccessible location to ground rescue crews.
A Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter aircrew launched and quickly found the hikers when they spotted a cell phone light from the cliffside.
After realizing the hikers were actually about 150 feet from the water line, and huddled closely on a small ledge, the aircrew immediately knew the situation was life-threatening, and it was critical to hoist Allen and Farber as soon as safely possible.
When the rescue swimmer deployed from the helicopter to hoist the hikers, the brittle condition of the cliff’s face made establishing secure contact challenging as he worked to prepare Allen and Farber to be hoisted into the aircraft. The pilots, hovering about 240 feet above the hikers and rescue swimmer and near the limit of their hoist cable, kept critical attention focused on the nearby trees and dangerous pitch of the cliff’s ledge.
“The time of day and location of the hikers made this, by far, the most difficult hoist of my career,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sammy Hill, the aircraft commander for the rescue. “This was also the first operational rescue for both our rescue swimmer and flight mechanic. Considering the dark and perilous conditions, they did a commendable job saving the lives of these two people in their unprecedented first rescue.”
The Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin aircrew hoisted the hikers from the ledge at about 2 a.m. and took them to Forks Airport where they were reported to be in good condition.
Hill also noted the success of this rescue is attributed to the joint unit and agency collaboration between the park rangers and multiple Coast Guard units and watchstanders.
The Coast Guard reminds hikers to always know the tide schedule while exploring near the beach and to always have a reliable means of communication in case of an emergency. The battery on the cell phone these hikers used to vector in their rescuers died just moments after the pilots spotted their location.
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