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Sisters hiker collapses, dies despite rescue effort

Sisters hiker collapses, dies despite rescue effort
Man can't be revived; Life Flight can't land
By KTVZ.COM news sources
August 20, 2012

A Sisters man hiking on Pole Creek Trail west of Sisters collapsed Monday morning and was pronounced dead after efforts to revive and rescue him proved unsuccessful, Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies said.

Around 7:10 a.m., county 911 dispatchers received a call for assistance from three hikers in the Pole Creek Trail area, said Lt. Scott Shelton, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue coordinator.

One of the callers said a member of the hiking party had collapsed on the trail and was not breathing, Shelton said. Two hikers, Zander Albertson and Parker Bennett, both 19, both of Sisters, were providing CPR to their companion, Robert Wayne Powell, 69, when the call was made, he said.

Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire Department medics responded and Deschutes County SAR crews were asked to assist due to the location. Shelton said the Pole Creek Trailhead, about 10 miles from Hwy. 242 (the McKenzie Pass Highway), is accessed on Forest Service Road 15.

Sheriff’s and forest patrol deputies responded, along with nine SAR volunteers, Shelton said.

A Life Flight helicopters from Redmond also was dispatched to the scene, but it was unable to safely land nearby due to heavy tree cover, the lieutenant said.

Still, the Life Flight crew helped those on the ground determine the victim’s location, and that the only way to reach him was on the ground, about two miles from the trailhead.

Life-saving efforts continued until Sisters-Camp Sherman medics arrived around 8:25 a.m., Shelton said. After consulting St. Charles Medical Center-Bend emergency room staff, those efforts were ended.

SAR personnel and deputies arrived on scene a short time later, and the SAR volunteers transported Powell to the trailhead.
Copyright 2012 KTVZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

How sad. My condolences to Mr. Powell's family!


What can be learned from this sad event?

The goals of the adventure should be within the abilities of every member. The hiking pace should be dictated by the least conditioned and able member of the group. No hiker can maintain an anaerobic pace or repeated anaerobic bursts. The least able, slowest member, should be asked to be in front, setting the pace. Ages 69 and 2 X 19 may not be compatible hiking companions. From 60 years hiking and climbing experience, I know that this behavior may not be intuitive, but it can be learned. I am sorry for everyone involved, including participants and rescuers.
--Robert Speik




Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated


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