Monday evening, Spokane County Sheriff's Office helicopter Air 1 successfully located a hiker lost in the Iller Creek Conservation Area. Air 1, with the help of a good Samaritan from the area, guided Spokane County Park Ranger Bryant Robinson to the hiker's location.
Around 5 p.m. the hiker called 911 for help. The 19-year-old woman said she began hiking at the Iller Creek Trailhead and was now lost, and it was starting to get dark. She had her cell phone, water and enough warm clothes, but did not know exactly where she was or how to get back to her car. She was told to stay where she was and wait for rescue crews that were on the way.
Deputies responded to the area to help along with Spokane County Park Ranger Bryant Robinson and an Air 1 Flight Crew consisting of Volunteer Pilot Dave Cummings and Tactical Flight Officers Deputy Louis Acosta and Deputy Dan Knight.
Dispatchers were able to ping the hiker's cell phone to get GPS coordinates to narrow the search area.
Once overhead, Air 1 began checking the now dark wooded area using the helicopter’s FLIR camera and Night Vision Goggles (NVG). The hiker was instructed to hold the lit screen of her cell phone toward the sky and Deputy Knight, using the NVGs, instantly spotted her phone.
Robinson arrived on an ATV and began to coordinate with deputies. A citizen called in and told deputies he knew the area well and saw Air 1 flying around and asked to help. The citizen provided the location of an obscure road which might lead to the hiker's location and Air 1 confirmed the info.
The hiker was not injured and she was given a ride back to her car.
Thankfully, the hiker was prepared to be out in the wilderness and, even though she was alone, she had her cell phone to call for help. She followed the instructions of dispatchers/rescuers and was quickly located by Air 1. With the assistance of a Good Samaritan, a planned route was quickly located and the hiker was recovered. This is a wonderful example of a citizen working with law enforcement using specialized equipment to quickly and efficiently locate a lost hiker and provide her the help she needed.
(story: Matt Pusatory, KHQ Local News Web Producer, KHQ.com; video: Spokane County Sheriff's Office)