Coast Guard Rescues Missing Oregon Teens After Spotting Message Written in Snow

by Matthew Memrick

When a Coast Guard helicopter saw “SOS” in the snow, they soon were able to find two Oregon teens missing for several days near Swastika Mountain.

Calls came into the Lane County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 29 when a pair of 19-year-olds went camping on the mountain around Christmas Day but did not return. Newsweek reported that the officers went to look for the teenagers on the ground but did not have luck.

After recent heavy snowfall covered mountain roads, the Sheriff’s Office “requested Coast Guard helicopter support.” 

The rescue location is about 32 miles east-southeast of Eugene.

According to ABC 2, an estimated 50 inches of snow had fallen in that Oregon area since Dec. 23.

Two More People Rescued By Helicopter

When the helicopter arrived on Jan. 1, crew members hoisted them into the aircraft and transferred them to the Eugene Airport to meet with sheriff’s officials. 

The plane also found two other people in distress. 

They notified Lane County officials and nearby land party search crews located the lost people. Officials did not report any injuries.

MH-65 aircraft commander Sector North Bender Lt. Maggie Champin praised the young men for doing “a lot of things right to give themselves the best chance of being rescued. 

She added that their “snow ‘SOS,’ proximity to their vehicle, and logging road closeness” helped officials find them quickly.

Tips For Hiking, Safety In Oregon, Other Places

Champin recommends locator beacons for all hikers. The device, which transmits signals for rescue purposes, uses satellites to locate people. 

The National Park Service asks hikers to carry a map and compass if they go out. Another critical point is to monitor the trail conditions before and during a hike. Finally, telling others your location and expected return will also help.

When hiking, it’s also good to carry essentials like waterproofing and wet clothing. Hiking poles on icy trails can prevent slipping along with shoe traction devices. 

Newsweek reported one instance in Oct. 2021 where a 74-year-old woman hiking in Colorado fell 30 feet down an embankment. Officials found her holding on to a tree. Another hiker reported the incident, and rescuers found her in time. They secured a rope to her and carried her up a stretcher. 

Woman Rescued Off Oregon Trail

A woman slipped on a Multnomah Falls trail and was left hanging onto a tree root overlooking a cliff last week. 

According to The Oregonian, officials did not report that she had any injuries after the 20-minute rescue.

Corbett Fire Chief Rick Wuncsch said he looked up at the woman, and “there she was, basically hanging on the side of a cliff of probably 300 foot or so.”

When he got a 2 p.m. phone call, Wunsch was the first responder to get to the site. A bystander pointed out the distressed hiker.

The hiker told officials she was walking on the trail when she slipped and fell over the edge. She said she slid about 30 feet before catching herself on the root.