Runner Crawled 10+ Hours Sub-Freezing Temps After Injuring Leg On Mountain Trail

Runner Crawled 10+ Hours Sub-Freezing Temps After Injuring Leg On Mountain Trail

Hiking

Runner Crawled 10+ Hours Sub-Freezing Temps After Injuring Leg On Mountain Trail

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“Carrying a charged cell phone and displaying incredible grit and determination to self-rescue likely prevented more serious injury in this case.” Jefferson County Search and Rescue 

Happy to report runner Joseph Oldendorf is recovering in a Washington State hospital after crawling 10+ hours in sub-freezing temperatures to get a cell signal to call for rescue after detaching his tibia during a trail run in Olympic National Park:
“I wasn’t counting on my phone ever working I just figured this is my only chance I’m going to crawl all the way there.”
Joseph was only wearing light running gear so soon his knees were soon raw from crawling on the rough terrain. Shortly after midnight on Saturday he received a text message and realized he had cell reception and immediately called 911. He told the dispatcher he was trying to lay down and wait for the rescue crew but was afraid he would die of cold exposure if he didn’t keep moving.
“I don’t want my family to hear I died in the wilderness. I think it’d be unbearable.”


HERE’S THE REPORT FROM Jefferson Search and Rescue:

JSAR was paged at 12:45 AM on Saturday, February 22, 2020, for the rescue of an injured trail runner on the Duckabush River Trail. Jeffcom 911 dispatch was able to confirm that the subject was located 3.5 or 4 miles up the trail with a reported ankle injury.

Four JSAR volunteers responded to the scene and started up the trail following the crew from Brinnon Fire Department, while a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy managed trailhead coordination and communication. Due to cold temperatures and the reported injury, JSAR and fire personnel coordinated to get fire-department EMTs to the subject as quickly as possible while SAR personnel brought up the equipment necessary to transport the injured subject.

The subject had been injured 9 or 10 miles from the trailhead around 5 PM on Friday. He crawled several miles until his cell phone obtained a signal, which he noticed when he received a text message. He stopped and called 911 to request help then kept moving, eventually relocating himself on his hands and knees 5 or 6 miles from the point of injury before Brinnon Fire personnel located him by voice. They then reached him and started treatment for exposure to cold and a broken ankle.

JSAR personnel scouted further up the trail to locate a good landing or hoist zone due to the distance from the trailhead and the number of hours since the subject was injured in sub-freezing temperatures with occasional light precipitation and wearing only light running clothes. A helicopter was requested by JCSO, and the subject was splinted, warmed and moved by wheeled litter to the hoist zone near the top of Big Hump. A U.S. Coast Guard SAR helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles flew to the scene and performed a hoist using their rescue basket, then took the runner to Harborview Medical Center for further treatment.

Trail running is a lightweight endeavor with little clothing and equipment available to a solo runner if something goes wrong. Carrying a charged cell phone and displaying incredible grit and determination to self rescue likely prevented more serious injury in this case.

HERE’S FOOTAGE FROM U.S. Coast Guard Air Station / SFO Port Angeles:

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