WATCH: Coast Guard Crews Pull Off Ocean, Mountaintop Rescues

June 21, 2021Matt White
A Coast Guard flight engineer guides the hoist cable upwards as the a rescue swimmer nears the door of theri MH-65 helicopter during a rescue 80 miles off off shore of 6 people from a sinking sailboat. Coast Guard video.

A Coast Guard flight engineer guides the hoist cable upwards as the a rescue swimmer nears the door of theri MH-65 helicopter during a rescue 80 miles off off shore of 6 people from a sinking sailboat. Coast Guard video.

From a sinking yacht 80 miles out to sea to the top of a 3,000-foot mountain, US Coast Guard helicopter crews had a busy Juneteenth weekend. In all, crews from three Coast Guard stations in Oregon and Northern California rescued eight people within 24 hours over the weekend, six from a sinking sailboat and two hurt hikers who fell 24 hours apart on top of the same popular mountain.

In the video below, a Coast Guard helicopter hoists an injured hiker from the top of Saddle Mountain in Oregon.

The Coast Guard released dramatic video Monday from the ocean rescue and one of the mountain rescues.

On Friday, an MH-60 Jayhawk crew from the Columbia River sector was called for a rescue on Saddle Mountain in northern Oregon. A woman who a rescuer said was in her 50s suffered an ankle injury near the mountain’s 3,287-foot peak about an hour south of Astoria. A rescue team from the Hamlet Volunteer Fire Department hiked to the woman on the mountain’s well-used trail, a short but steep hike that gains 3,000 feet in about 3 miles. Hamlet fire chief Matt Verley said the woman had injured her ankle near the mountain’s summit.

A US Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk maneuvers for a hoist rescue on Saddle Mountain in Oregon on Saturday, June 19, 2021. Photo courtesy of Genesee Dennis.

On Saturday, Verley’s team and the Coast Guard did it all again. The Saturday call came in, Verley said, within 15 minutes of the time of Friday’s call. Another woman in her 50s had suffered another ankle injury at nearly the same spot near the summit of Saddle Mountain. Verley and his team hiked to her and maneuvered her into position for a second Coast Guard pickup.

In both cases, he said, the women fell in spots known for treacherous hiking.

Watch video of US Coast Guard heroics out to sea and on top of a popular mountain in the Pacific Northwest over Juneteenth weekend.

“Once you get above treeline up there, the footing is really, really loose and really steep,” Verley said. “You don’t even have to misstep to hurt yourself. A rock can give way, and you find yourself skiing down a little bit.”

Verley said Hamlet and three other local fire departments share search-and-rescue duties on Saddle Mountain, and the two rescues were the first on the popular mountain since lockdown from the coronavirus pandemic.

The two trips up the steep Saddle Mountain trail took a toll, Verley said.

“I spent most of Father’s Day on my sofa waiting for the Advil to kick in,” he said.

Also Saturday, crews from two Coast Guard stations on the state’s coastline responded to a sailboat in distress 80 miles west of Crescent City, California. The sailboat Barlovento radioed that it had lost power in 60-mile-per-hour winds and 20-foot seas.

A helicopter crew from Humboldt Bay in California picked up four from the boat, and a crew from North Bend in Oregon picked up the last two.

Read Next: The Triumph and Tragedy of Coast Guard Search and Rescue

Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

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