Search & Rescue, deputies & Air 2 team up to locate lost hikers - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Search & Rescue, deputies & Air 2 team up to locate lost hikers

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SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. -

What started as a sunny, Sunday hike at Liberty Lake Regional Park turned into something very different when two hikers wandered off the trails and became lost.  The hikers, dressed for sun and mid-80 degree temperatures, now found themselves in the dark, heavily wooded forest with temperatures which had plummeted into the 40’s.

The initial call from the hikers came in to 911 just before 9:00 p.m.  The call from the hiker’s cell phone provided longitude and latitude coordinates of their approximate location, southeast of Liberty Lake near the Washington and Idaho border. 

The hikers wandered off the trail near a waterfall and were unable to find their way back.  Once it was dark, they knew they were in trouble and made the 911 call.  Thankfully, they had a cell phone with them; however, the battery was dying fast and the cell service was spotty.       

With the very dense forest and rugged area, Deputies began to respond to the area.  Air 2 Flight Crews, a SAR Deputy and two SAR Volunteers were called out to assist. 

Using the longitude and latitude coordinates, Air 2 Flight Crew easily located the general area but with the heavy forest and darkness, they did not immediately find the hikers.  Switching to Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), they located a small flickering, intermittent light below. 

Dispatchers made a quick call to the hikers to confirm Air 2 was overhead.  The Air 2 Flight Crew had observed the lighter the hikers were using as a signal as they kept their cell phone off to save what little battery remained. 

Air 2 marked and orbited the location as the SAR team began the walk in.  Once SAR was close, Air 2 assisted in guiding them to the location of the hikers. 

The SAR Team provided the hikers, who were very cold, warm clothing and guided them out of the park.      

From the initial 911 call, it took almost 2 ½ hours to contact them in person and provide needed supplies due to the distance, darkness and terrain. 

Thankfully, they were uninjured; however, our SAR Team would like to remind hikers of a few tips if they find themselves lost:

  1. Call for help when you know you’re lost, before it’s dark.
  2. No one ever expects to get lost, bring clothing and supplies with you: food, water, warm clothing, cellphone, compass, GPS and a flashlight/strobe light should be carried as a precaution, even on a short hike.
  3. If you do have a cellphone, put it in “Airplane” mode to conserve your battery.  As you leave good cell phone coverage, your cell phone will expend a lot of power as it continually searches for a connection. 
  4. Bring a map of where you’re hiking; know where you are as you’re enjoying our beautiful parks and wilderness.  In addition to possibly helping you find your way back if you get turned around, making notes can also be used when planning hikes in the future.     

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