News

Injured hiker evacuated after night spent in the wild

by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette

Jacob Lewis, a 15-year-old student at Sequim High School, is safe at home after a 150-foot fall down a mountainside in Olympic National Park on Sunday followed by a night spent in the wild.

 

Lewis, who sustained leg injuries in the fall, was successfully flown out of the area Monday afternoon by a Coast Guard helicopter. The rescue involved Olympic National Park rangers, the U.S. Coast Guard and a team of Clallam County Search & Rescue personnel.

 

Lewis’s father, Brian Lewis, said he and his three sons were hiking Pyramid Peak Trail north of Lake Crescent on Sunday afternoon when Jacob lost his footing at a slide area.

 

Brian made his way down to his son to check out his condition.

 

“He had cuts all over and both ankles were swollen,” he said.

 

Brian immediately attempted to contact rescue personnel but found his cell phone connection was breaking up.

 

“I was pretty scared,” he said. “We were cutting it close in terms of daylight. When I saw the injuries and the bad communications — I was worried about exposure with that injury.”

 

He eventually was able to send a text message to Jacob’s mother, Debbie Lewis, and “She started the rescue.”

 

Because it was 3:30 p.m. and the sun was going down, Brian prepared the boy as best he could to spend the night.

 

Park rangers showed up at 7 p.m., bringing with them water and extra clothing, as well as a dozen sleeping bags.

 

After surveying the scene, rangers agreed it would be unwise to attempt to remove Jacob in the dark.

“He was stable,” Brian said. “It was safest to wait until morning.”

 

Two rangers set up a tarpaulin as shelter and stayed behind to spend the night with Jacob and Brian Lewis.

 

With the morning’s first light, teams of Olympic National Park rangers and a team of CCSAR personnel hiked back to the makeshift campsite.

 

Jacob was airlifted from the site at 12:15 p.m. Monday and was flown immediately to Olympic Memorial Hospital.

 

“I was so relieved to see the helicopter doors close,” Brian said.

 

Jacob was treated for a broken ankle and released. Brian said Jacob will see an orthopedist next week to see if surgery is required, but said it is unlikely.

 

The Pyramid Peak Trail is located on the north side of Lake Crescent within Olympic National Park, approximately 20 miles west of Port Angeles.

 


Reach Mark Couhig at mcouhig@sequimgazette.com.

 

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