Coast Guard helicopter crew rescues father Keizer, his injured teenage daughter and their dog in Three Sisters Wilderness

Unforgettable Father's Day for family, 'incredibly difficult rescue' after 14-year-old suffers knee injury

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) – A Keizer father, his 14-year-old daughter and their dog planned to finish their fun five-day hike in the Cascades on Sunday, Father's Day. But it turned into an entirely different experience when she dislocated her knee and couldn't continue, prompting an “incredibly difficult” aerial rescue in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from Astoria.

The Coast Guard released video of the rescue operation and initial details Monday, with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management providing more information to NewsChannel 21 on Tuesday about the rescue that took place in the Oregon National Forest. Willamette, just west of the border with Deschutes. National Forest, along the Porky Lake Trail, 13 miles southwest of South Sister and 11 miles west of Mt.

The rescue began after the father called 911, a call that was routed to the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office. The DCSO SAR Coordinator initiated a SAR incident report to the Oregon Emergency Response System. They contacted OEM search and rescue coordinator Scott Lucas, the only OEM official who could call on outside agencies to help.

Lucas told NewsChannel 21 he contacted the U.S. Coast Guard Air Force Base Astoria around 4:20 p.m. Sunday after Air Link said they could not reach the hikers due to icing and fog at higher altitudes.

Lucas said Deschutes County usually would have responded since it was so close to their county line, but their SAR team was already on a mission. Lucas said he coordinated the use of outside air resources because while a ground rescue team was en route, it would have taken longer, the weather was deteriorating — and then the father's cell phone was fails.

Lucas said he usually would have called the Oregon National Guard in such a situation, but being Father's Day, he estimates it could have taken four or five hours. In the meantime, he said, “The Coast Guard had been training for inland search and rescue. We have been working with them for years to come into the interior of the country. They did one (a rescue) on Mount Washington a year ago.

The Astoria Coast Guard took over the mission, he said, while the hikers' wife and mother drove from Keizer, meeting them at the helicopter landing spot at the Redmond Municipal Airport, with an ambulance from Redmond Fire & Rescue.

Observers at the Coast Guard's 13th District Command Center in Seattle said they received a report at 4:20 p.m. from OEM Oregon regarding the injured teenager, who had suffered a serious knee injury and was incapacitated to return to the trailhead.

They led the launch of an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Astoria to assist. The crew arrived on site around 6:30 p.m.

Due to the steep terrain and tree height exceeding the length of the helicopter's lifting cable, the two rescue swimmers were lowered approximately 400 meters from the hikers' location.

Rescue swimmers located the hiker and her father, then used a confined space stretcher to transport and drag the patient over fallen trees, rocks and snow to the lifting area.

The plane's crew hoisted the injured hiker, along with her father and dog, into the helicopter and transported them to Redmond Municipal Airport where they awaited emergency medical services. the teenager is said to be in stable condition.

“This was an incredibly difficult, but rewarding rescue,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Jason Weeks. “The environment of this region posed significant challenges, but through our constant training for dynamic conditions like these, we were able to work together as an effective team and successfully complete our mission. This crew was made up of three fathers. So it was very heartwarming to be able, on Father's Day, to play a role in the safe return of a father and daughter.

Lucas, of the Oregon OEM, said he never found out how the teen — who also had a previously dislocated knee — was injured. “His cell phone broke, which made it urgent to get out there, with the weather turning cold. They had been hiking for five days and were well equipped.

Before venturing outside, the Coast Guard said it wanted to remind people to follow these recommended safety guidelines:

  • Carry a means of communication with you in case you need help.
  • File a travel plan and entrust it to someone you trust. It should include when you are leaving, where you will be, how long you will be gone and when you plan to return.
  • Pack appropriate equipment, including a first aid kit, food, water, and extra clothing in case you need to shelter in place. In an emergency, it may take several hours for rescuers to reach your location.

The OEM manager noted that it's common for hikers to leave their cell phones on in areas where there is no service, but this drains the battery quickly because the cell phone continues to search for a signal. Lucas stressed that it's best to put your device on airplane mode or turn it off when you're in areas with spotty service. This conserves battery power in case you need to call for help. Additionally, having an emergency phone charger in your backpack is a good idea.

“The first thing we ask people in these situations is, ‘How long does your battery last?’” Lucas said. “They'll say something like 16%, and we'll tell them to turn their phone off and only turn it back on every hour or so. That's an added challenge in these situations.

For more tips on hiking safely, the National Parks Service has published an article titled Hike Smart (US National Park Service) (

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