Released by: Deputy Jim Whitcomb Assistant SAR Coordinator

Occurred: August 9, 2016 at 1238 hours

Location: Pacific Crest Tail North of Dee Wright Observatory

Name: Hiker: Michelle Releford, 49-year-old female, Garland, TX

Reporting Party: Amy Vandeha, 29-year-old female, Portland, OR


On August 9, 2016 at 1238 hours, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office received a dispatch reporting a hiker had become unresponsive while hiking north on the PCT from the Dee Wright Observatory located on Hwy 242 west of Sisters. The reporting person and fellow hiker, Amy Vandehey, advised Michelle Releford could not continue on the trail any longer and needed medical assistance as soon as possible. Based on GPS coordinates received, Releford’s location was about two miles up the trail from Hwy 242. Cell phone reception in this area is very poor so Vandehey resorted to requesting numerous different hikers in the area to call 911 when they obtained reception.

Two Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue hasty team members were deployed to the PCT trail just west of Dee Wright and ran up the trail to assess the hiker’s condition. Five other DCSAR members followed after with a wheeled litter.

Upon the hasty team’s arrival at about 1445 hours, it was determined Releford needed to be transported to a hospital as soon as possible for a potential life-threatening condition.

Life Flight was dispatched to the location. The closest landing zone was determined to be on Hwy 242, just a little west of where DCSAR members were deployed on the trail.

Releford was transported by wheeled litter back to the location where DCSOSAR vehicles had staged. The process was slowed down by the narrowness of the trail through a section of lava. Releford was transported by a DCSOSAR vehicle to Life Flight’s location after which Life Flight departed at 1631 hours to St Charles Medical Center.