Skip to Content

Hikers Rescued After Long Night In Woods


No maps, no compass, 13 hours lost in the woods.

“They were just going for a short hike, they got turned around and couldn’t find their way out,” said sheriff?s Lt. Scott Shelton, search and rescue coordinator.

As morning fog blanketed Hosmer Lake, 55-year-old Terri Harris was was taken by boat to safety. Her husband 51-year-old John Harris was also rescued after spending the night huddled under a makeshift shelter of tree limbs in the forest, as temperatures dipped into the 40’s.

“The lady that was hiking with them was extremely hypothermic,” said Shelton.

Around 4:30 a.m. Deschutes County 911 got a call from the Portland-area couple. The pair said they called for help due to the cold, rainy weather and the woman?s worsening condition, Shelton said.

Patrol deputies using enhanced 911 responded to the area and eventually found the hikers about five miles from the Lava Lake trailhead, on the Windago trail.

Crews found Terri Harris shivering and pale, but alive after a long night that didn’t have to be. The couple started their hike just after 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.

They had a fully charged cellphone – the entire time. But didn’t call for help, because they thought Deschutes County Search and Rescue didn’t do night missions.

“Anytime day or night, weather conditions make no difference, our job is to come help you if you are lost or in trouble,” said Shelton.

Sheriff?s Search and Rescue teams and deputies responded with 24 personnel, including horse and ground search teams, medical support teams and watercraft. Heavy rain was falling at the time, with temperatures in the low 40s, Shelton said.

Shortly after 7 a.m., the SAR teams contacted a deputy who was assisting the lost hikers. The woman initially was unable to walk out due to injuries sustained from exposure to the elements, and was brought across the lake by a sheriff?s patrol boat. The man was able to walk out with escort.

Both hikers were evaluated by SAR medical personnel and Sunriver fire medics at the incident command post, and released after an evaluation, Shelton said.

Even in the dense forest, 911 was able to track the couple to a specific location thanks to their cellphone.

“I Just can’t stress enough, if you think you’re in trouble, call us early,” said Shelton.

The Harrises told rescuers they had left from Lava Lake around 4 p.m. on Monday, intending to take a short hike, and not equipped to stay out overnight, or for the changing weather conditions.

Based on the weather when they left, they did not take rain gear or other foul-weather equipment, Shelton said. They also did not have a compass, map or other navigation system.

Shelton said the SAR members ?want to advise the citizens of Deschutes County and those who visit the area that the sheriff?s office and Search and Rescue will respond to calls for assistance at any time, day or night, in any weather conditions.?

But he also said the ?sheriff?s office would like to remind all who travel to be prepared for changing weather conditions and to be properly prepared for their activity.?

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ News Team


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content