Two Hikers near Wellman Divide
Written by Tyler Shumway
On Friday August 10th at 7:15pm I was at home when I received a call from Glenn Henderson about a possible hoist mission. The only information we had from 911 dispatch was a text message saying, “My friend is dead, and I am dying”. While Glenn and I geared up at Hemet Ryan, Riverside County Sheriff’s Aviation Unit Star 9 was already in route to assess the situation. Upon return, Star 9 was able to determine the subject’s location and a possible drop in point. The location of the subject was 0.10 miles NW of Annie’s Junction (PCT mile 181) along the Wellman Divide Trail. During this time State Parks dispatched a park volunteer to that location from Round Valley. After passing Wellman Cienega (0.5 miles north of the Subject) State Parks was able to locate the friend and reported that he was deceased. He was then able to contact the second subject who had requested help and he was alive.
Star 9 flew us to Keenwild Helicopter base to pick up the stokes basket and to drop off Glenn. The drop off point required only one of us at time due to altitude and winds. Star 9 was able to drop me off at 9,200ft in a clearing on the ridgeline above Annie’s Junction. This put me 200 yards uphill from the subject. I made my way down to them as Star 9 went back to Keenwild to pick up Glenn.
I made contact with State Parks Samuel King and the subject who was lying down in the middle of the trail. Samuel had done a great job of keeping him warm and as comfortable as possible while waiting for help. After providing fluids and encouragement we got him up on his feet, but he was very weak and was suffering from severe muscle cramps. We had to get him back to the helicopter pick up point (200 yards uphill) as the current location was not suitable for a hoist due to the topography. Sam and I assisted the subject to the extraction point where Glenn was already waiting with the Stokes basket assembled. He was able to bear weight on his own, so we opted to use a screamer suite instead of the stokes basket. Star 9 hoisted the Subject and returned him to Keenwild where AMR was waiting to provide further medical attention.
State Parks member Samuel King returned to wait with the body overnight, while other members of State Parks were to arrive later. They would wait for the coroner to arrive Saturday morning and either hoisted the body out or wheel it back to tram. Then Star 9 returned to hoist Glenn and the stokes basket back to Keenwild and then back to hoist me. Mission was over just before midnight.
Thank you RSO Pilot Chad Marlatt and TFO Jerry Osterloh for a safe mission. Also thank you Samuel King of State Parks for hiking out and making initial contact and providing assistance.
Our sincerest condolences go out to the family and loved ones of the deceased.
Map of where things happened
The two hikers started from Humber Park with heavy packs at 12:00pm on August 10th. Their plan was to summit San Jacinto Peak and then camp overnight at Round Valley. Temperatures and humidity were above average in the high country. One of the hikers decided to hike ahead and passed Annie’s Junction. The second hiker came upon his friend just before Wellman Cienega and found him lying on the trail. He reported that he found him unresponsive, not breathing and without a pulse. He tried doing CPR and quickly realized he needed to get help. After already hiking 4.5 miles with close to 3,000ft of elevation gain at altitude during the hottest part of the day he was experiencing symptoms of dehydration. He tried getting cell signal but was unable to get a distress call out. He made it back 0.10 miles NW of Annie’s Junction where his body seized up and was unable to move. He continued to try to call for help and was finally able to get a text message out.
RMRU Members Involved: Glenn Henderson and Tyler Shumway.
Sheriff’s Aviation: Pilot Chad Marlot and TFO Jerry Osterloh.
State Parks: Samuel King and other State Park Persons who came out after we left.