September 16, 2018


SKAMANIA COUNTY, Wash. – An injured hunter could still be waiting for help after falling more than 60 feet near Mount St. Helens if it wasn’t for a friend who went to call for help.

Rescuers say Joshua Orcahrd, 30, was hunting with a friend near Spirit Lake, just off Forest Service 99 road when he fell. He was listed in serious condition Sunday at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, but a spokesperson for the hospital said he was in good spirits, awake and alert.

Mike Williams, team leader with the Volcano Rescue Team, said they were called at about 10 a.m. Saturday to respond to the hurt hunter. North Country EMS and the Skamania County Sheriff were also involved in the rescue.
Williams said Orchard and his friend were walking down a ravine, off trail, and out of cell phone range when they came to a steep area. The friend made it down safely, but Williams said Orchard lost his footing and fell between 60 and 70 feet.

“He bounced off some rocks and it was solid rock at the bottom where he landed,” said Williams.

Rescuers said Orchard suffered a badly hurt leg and lower back.

While Orchard was hurt, Williams said his friend hiked for about an hour back into cell phone range to call for help.

“If he didn’t have anyone with him, it was pretty unlikely that anyone would have found him yesterday. And if he was reported missing last night, it would have taken us quite a bit of time to find him,” said Williams.

Luckily, a team of 11 people with Volcano Rescue Team were training on the other side of the mountain at the time of the fall. Williams said that helped them get to Orchard about an hour faster than normal.

The team treated Orchard on scene. Instead of hiking him out of the area and driving him to the hospital, which would have taken hours in the tough terrain, they called for a helicopter. A Navy chopper from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station arrived and hoisted Orchard out of the ravine.

Williams said this is a reminder that it is always a good idea to go with a group if you plan to hike.


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
P.O. Box 562
New Paltz, NY 12561