TILLAMOOK COUNTY SHERIFF’S SEARCH AND RESCUE LOCATE LOST TEENS, LEAD THEM TO SAFETY – Tillamook County Pioneer

On February 1, 2022 at approximately 6:18 p.m. TCSO Deputy Mike Reeves responded to the southernmost part of Tillamook County near Cascade Head for a report of possible lost hikers. Their vehicle was located at the trailhead parking lot on N. Three Rocks Rd. Cell phone contact was made with the hikers. The lost hikers were two 17 year old females from the Portland area who left the trail and turned around. They were now unable to locate the trail as it was getting darker and the precipitation was increasing. They believed they were now on a road. The teenagers were advised to stay where they were and that rescuers were on the way.

Billy Cloud, TCSO’s assistant search and rescue (SAR) coordinator, called the SAR team. Deputies Tom Mayne, Dennis Greiner, Kelly Awe and Detective Andy Christopherson responded to assist the two SAR volunteers who responded to the page-out. The team was divided into three groups: a command post and two ground search teams.
Tillamook 911 dispatchers indicated there was a high likelihood the teens were somewhere on U.S. Forest Service Rd 1861 and provided the SAR base with GPS coordinates. Around 8 p.m., Team 1, consisting of Deputies Christopherson, Greiner, and Mayne, arrived at FS1861, located at the top of Cascade Head, and began their search.
USFS Forest Protection Officer (FPO) Travis Sisco said the road was washed out past the gate, so vehicles would not be an option. Team 1 decided to walk the road anyway, hoping they could bypass all the washouts in an effort to reach the lost teenagers faster than walking from below. The teenagers had reported that although they had coats on, they were cold and wet and had been on the trail since noon that day. Weather conditions continued to deteriorate.
“We quickly encountered the first washout,” Detective Christopherson said. “We managed to circumvent it. Then at about a quarter mile we hit the 2nd landslide. We were also able to bypass this one. But, further on, we hit a third impassable landslide. The road was washed out on one side and on the other side there was a mud bank that went straight up 150 feet. It was determined that the only way to reach the Lost Teens would be to join Team 2.
Meanwhile, Team 2, consisting of SAR volunteers Zach Lee and Brodie Cloud, had already begun to ascend the trail for 3.4 miles to its intersection with FS1861. Then they marched west on FS1861 for 1.5 miles, where they located the lost teenagers.
Team 2 met Team 1, and they all went back to the trailhead – slippery and slippery for over 5 miles. “Sometimes we were hiking through calf-deep mud,” Detective Christopherson said. The group finally reached the parking lot around 1am. All were cold, wet and muddy – but luckily no injuries were reported.
“Hikers weren’t as prepared as they should have been,” Deputy Billy Cloud said. “They were wearing trainers and one was wearing pajama bottoms. Luckily they had food, a charged mobile phone and they stayed put when advised, which allowed us to The teenagers met their parents at the trailhead.
Tillamook County Search and Rescue relies on volunteers to accomplish our missions. We need volunteers ready to respond to calls and trainings. In return, you’ll learn life-saving forest navigation techniques, first aid, and receive specialist training that may include diving and rope rescue teams. The skills you gain by volunteering for TCSO provide an important service to your community and may well save your life when venturing into our beautiful forests. Please consider volunteering today. For more information visit tillamooksheriff.com

Brandon D. James