By Darla DePew
Administrative Assistant 4
On Thursday, Nov. 19, Olympic Corrections Center (OCC) work crews, Community Service Crews, Forks Ambulance, Forks Fire Department, Clallam County Sheriff and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) crews worked together to rescue a hiker, previously missing for over 30 hours.
DNR had removed several “danger trees” in the Cottonwood Campground and OCC Community Service Crews were in the process of assisting DNR with cleanup and removal of firewood for donation to a local firewood assistance program.
Eric Steffen, Natural Resource Specialist with DNR received word that the hiker had been located in the woods near Forks, in rugged terrain. Emergency personnel were in need of additional help with the hiker’s removal from the woods.
After running the request through CS Supervisor Scott DePew and receiving approval from Jason Bennett, OCC Superintendent – crew supervisors made the offender crew members aware of the situation. CS Supervisor Ron Howell described the crew as “excited and proud with no hesitation” to assist with the rescue.
Both crews, made up of 14 incarcerated individuals and two OCC employees, responded to the location where the missing hiker had been located. Forks Ambulance personnel were attending the hiker about 300 yards down an approximately 80-90 percent grade ravine.
Once emergency personnel had secured the hiker on the gurney, eight offenders proceeded to pack him up the hill with an additional saw-trained incarcerated crew member cutting a pathway to assist with footing. Emergency personnel transported the hiker by ambulance to Forks Community Hospital for evaluation/treatment.
After the rescue operation, one crew member was quoted as saying to Supervisor Ron Howell, “Mr. Howell, this is the most rewarding thing I’ve done.”