SALMON CREEK — Two men nearing the limits of physical endurance were rescued Monday morning after their vehicle became trapped by falling trees in a rugged area of southeast Pacific County.
A citizen on Salmon Creek Road east of Naselle spotted one of the men and called Pacific County Emergency Dispatch at 8:07 a.m. Monday to report a “suspicious person,” Sheriff Scott Johnson said Monday afternoon. When a sheriff’s deputy responded to the scene — on the county road four miles from State Route 4 — he found a man who had been “out there for days and days,” Johnson said. He was wandering “totally lost, disoriented and confused,” according to initial reports.
Other help soon responded, including Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers and Wahkiakum County Sheriff’s Department personnel.
Details were still sketchy Monday. But the man, whose identity has not been released, told a frightening story of trees falling on the vehicle in which he and a male companion were traveling in backcountry. They were unable to extricate themselves from tangled tree trunks and branches in the vicinity of the Toonerville horse-packing campground, which is maintained by the Washington Department of Natural Resources near the far end of Salmon Creek Road. Johnson said the incident may have occurred during unsettled weather late last week. The men became separated and the man initially rescued may have been seeking a way out of the woods for three entire days.
The other man was eventually located on the creek side of the 5900 Line Road. He was hypothermic — suffering a low body temperature from exposure to the elements — and experiencing pancreatic and back problems, the sheriff said. Emergency responders said “he would not have made it much longer,” he said. Both men were transported to St. John’s Hospital in Longview. Their condition was unknown at the time of this report.
The vehicle was located at 11:29 a.m., and the responding towing company was informed they would need a chainsaw to cut it out of the deadfall. It was pulled out at 1:48 p.m.
No one reported the men missing, so no search had been launched, Johnson said. The area where the men were trapped is notoriously remote, with no cell or law enforcement radio service.
This is a developing story. Check this week’s print edition of the Chinook Observer for a more fully developed report.