Rescuers bring in disoriented hiker
Friday, May 25, 2012
TWISP — At least six emergency agencies teamed up Thursday to locate a disoriented Twisp man who spent Wednesday night in dense forest, started a fire and was firing a handgun.
Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said that neither the 41-year-old man nor emergency workers were injured in the two-day incident, which mobilized crews from the Okanogan and Chelan County sheriff’s offices, Twisp police, U.S. Forest Service, the State Patrol, the Winthrop marshal Winthrop and others from west of the Cascades.
Rogers said the 41-year-old man became disoriented after not taking medication. He’d had a disagreement with others in his hiking group and separated from them.
Another group called and reported to police that they’d made contact with the man Wednesday evening near the Buttermilk trailhead, about 16 miles up Twisp River Road in the Okanogan National Forest, Rogers said.
They said the man was carrying a machete and told them that he was with a group of people and that he was the only survivor.
The man had disappeared into the forest when sheriff’s deputies arrived. By then, the disoriented man’s original group had come out and told deputies that they were fine.
The man spent the night in the forest and apparently started a campfire, Rogers said. But the fire spread Thursday morning, prompting the Forest Service to send in a fire crew.
The crew withdrew from the area when they heard gunshots near the fire.
That’s when the rescue mobilization, including a helicopter and aircraft with infrared sensors, began, Rogers said. Crews surrounded the area, as the spreading fire approached Twisp River Road.
Okanogan County Sheriff’s deputies took the Forest Service’s fire truck into the forest and put out a large portion of the fire, Rogers said.
A ground crew eventually saw the man scramble up a tree but got him to come down. Rogers said the man was shooting a .40-caliber handgun, and was apparently not shooting at anything in particular.
He was taken to Mid-Valley Hospital in Omak for evaluation, but had not been booked this morning, Rogers said, and might not be.
Christine Pratt: 665-1173
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