NORTH BEND — A coordinated effort between sheriff's deputies, search and rescue personnel and the U.S. Coast Guard resulted in the rescue of a 65-year-old man Friday who had become stranded in a deep canyon near Loon Lake.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, at approximately 11 a.m., the Douglas County Sheriff's Office was contacted regarding an individual who had gone mushroom picking in the Elliot State Forest off of Elk Ridge Road near Loon Lake on Wednesday, Feb. 21, and had become lost. The lost man was identified as Juan Pitcher of Reedsport.
Deputies were dispatched to the area along with Oregon State Search and Rescue personnel. The terrain was very steep and rocky with thick brush and heavy timber, according to a press release from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Crews searched until nightfall Thursday without finding signs of Pitcher.
The search resumed Friday morning. Around noon, crews began hearing a voice response from a man, which came from deep within a canyon. Shortly after 1 p.m., searchers located Pitcher, who was in poor condition.
At the request of the Sheriff's Office, the Oregon State Search and Rescue coordinator arranged for the U.S. Coast Guard to fly into the area and extract Pitcher out of the difficult terrain.
An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Sector North Bend launched from Air Station North Bend at 1 p.m. and arrived at the scene at 2:15 p.m.
The man was hoisted from his location and taken to Coast Guard Air Station North Bend, where they landed at 4 p.m. He was then transported to Bay Area Hospital for treatment. Pitcher was reported to be suffering from hypothermia and dehydration.
The Sheriff's Office was also assisted by Search and Rescue crews from Josephine, Coos, Curry and Del Norte (California) counties and Lower Umpqua Hospital Ambulance Service.
"The Coast Guard works closely with state and local agencies to keep people safe, and this case demonstrates how good communication and cooperation can help save lives," said Coast Guard Petty Officer Trevor Lilburn.