By: Lt. Bryan Husband, Special Services Coordinator
Assisted Subject: Vanessa Collier, 39 year old female, Redmond, OR
On 09/27/17, at 4:39pm, 9-1-1 Dispatch received a non-emergency call from Vanessa Collier, who stated she had been hiking for about 2-3 hours on the Tam McArthur Rim trail near Broken Top and was lost. Collier advised she was dressed for the weather, had food and water, but her shoes were wet. Collier’s cell phone battery at the time of call was at 25%.
The call was lost and dispatch received a 9-1-1 call from Collier who reported her cell phone battery was now 20%, but she had a portable charger that would be able to extend the battery’s life. Collier was patched through to a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Special Services Deputy, who attempted to help orient her as to her whereabouts as well as made a plan to pick her up at the Broken Top trail head south of her current location. The cell reception at Collier’s location was poor and attempts to text Collier additional maps or extraction routes were unsuccessful.
Approximately one hour later, Dispatch received a 9-1-1 hang up call from Collier and it was later learned her charging device was not functional and her cell phone battery had died. Three DCSO Search And Rescue Volunteers and two DCSO Deputies responded to the last known location for Collier and began searching into the night. Although the trail where Collier had began her hike at Three Creeks Trail head was dry, the trail near the bottom of Broken Top was covered in snow. Collier had lost the trail in the snow.
The DCSO SAR Volunteers were successful in locating Collier’s tracks in the snow and were able to follow them back to the main trail where they were undetectable among the other tracks of other hikers. AirLink assisted by joining the search, their standard flight crew accompanied by one additional DCSO SAR Volunteer spotter.
At approximately 2:30am, one of the DCSO Deputies located Collier at the Todd Lake Trail head. Collier had successfully started a small warming fire and was appropriately waiting for one of the search teams to locate her at the trail head. Collier was in good physical condition.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind those that recreate outdoors to prepare accordingly for your activity. Some considerations include proper clothing for day and night conditions in your environment, even if you do not expect to be out over night. Ensure you have adequate water and food, topographical trail maps, extra batteries or charging options for phones or GPS units. Bring a light source and a signaling device. Seek out information regarding the area and what may be encountered, such as current and projected weather conditions as well as terrain in the area. Tell someone where you are going, what you will be taking with you and when you plan to return. Collier had done several of these things which helped in locating her.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office strongly encourages those recreating in the outdoors to do so with a partner(s) and not separate.