A hiker who fell down a steep embankment beneath Washington state's highest bridge was hoisted to safety in a dramatic rescue operation Tuesday. A Special Operations Rescue Team from several Mason County agencies found the 25-year-old Bremerton man under High Steel Bridge, about 20 miles northwest of Shelton. Mason County sheriff's detective William Adam says the man had been hiking in the Olympic National Forest when he slid down a steep embankment under the bridge, which spans the Skokomish River.
Adam says a rescuer rappelled from the 420-foot tall bridge down to the river below. The injured hiker was then hoisted from the river bank to the top of the bridge, or about 42 stories up.
The hiker was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a leg injury.
The High Steel Bridge goes over the south fork of the Skokomish River and was built by the Simpson Logging Company in 1929. The U.S. Forest Service says the bridge is 420 feet high and 685 feet long - the highest bridge in the state.
July 29, 2014 - IMAGE from KOMOair
Press Release From MCSO:
Multi-Agency SORT Rescues Injured Hiker Under High Steel Bridge On Tuesday July 29, 2014, at 10:57 AM, MACECOM Dispatch received a 9-1-1 call from an anonymous female stating that a man that was hiking near the bottom of the ravine under the High Steel Bridge, slipped and fell to the water embankment. The caller stated that the man appeared to have hurt his leg and that he is bleeding.
Due to the very steep and dangerous terrain, units from the multi-agency SORT (Special Operations Rescue Team) were dispatched. Responding SORT members include Deputies from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, and Fire Fighter/EMT/Paramedics/EMS from Central Mason Fire, Mason County Fire District #4, Mason County Fire District #6, and Mason County Fire District #9.
The High Steel Bridge is located off of US Forest Service Road #2340 and is in the Olympic National Forest approximately 25 miles north, northwest from Shelton. The High Steel Bridge was built by the Simpson Logging Company in 1929 as a railway bridge and it stands 420 feet above the south fork of the Skokomish River, which makes it the highest bridge in WA State.
After SORT units arrived and accessed the incident, the safest way to evacuate the injured man was to “package” the victim at the bottom of the ravine and hoist him all the way to the top of the bridge. Once the man reached the top, he was transported by ambulance to Mason General Hospital in Shelton to be treated for an injury/possible fracture to his leg.
The injured hiker was identified as 25 year old Raymond Horton from Bremerton and he had been hiking around the steep slopes below the High Steel Bridge with a couple of friends.
Mason County Sheriff Casey Salisbury stated that having a partnership with other rescue/1st responder agencies in Mason County, provides a professional response team to serve citizens that find themselves in critical and difficult situations. SORT provided a technical rope rescue operation that saved this injured hiker. Without this team and the partnership of multiple agencies, this incident could have ended much differently.
MCSO PIO Detective William Adam - July 30, 2014