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Prineville couple’s fall prompts 2-county rescue effort

Crooked River Canyon rescue CCSO 1208
Crook County Sheriff's Office
Deschutes, Crook county rescuers were called to assist after two Prineville residents fell in the Crooked River Canyon on Sunday.

Part of rock ledge gave way; companion hurt trying to reach man

PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Prineville man was seriously injured in a 30-foot fall Sunday when part of a rock ledge broke loose during a hike in the Crooked River Canyon south of Prineville. His companion also was hurt in a fall when she went to help him, prompting a two-county rescue effort due to the steep, rugged terrain, officials said.

A Crook County sheriff’s sergeant was dispatched to the serious-injury incident around 1 p.m. Sunday near milepost 12 of Highway 27 South, across the road from the Castle Rock Campground, Sgt. Jacob Childers said Tuesday.

The sergeant and Crook County Fire & Rescue crews hiked east of the Crooked River Highway, up the steep grade to the base of the rimrock, about 250 feet above the highway. Childers noted the very steep, rocky terrain was wet and slipper, creating “significant dangers” for rescuers..

They found Daniel Hibbitts, 40, and Theresa Mick, 41, about 200 yards north of the campground, at the base of the rock.

Responders learned the pair had driven from Prineville to the campground, then crossed the highway and hiked to the base of the rimrock, then climbed up the wet, vertical rock and onto a ledge above 30 feet above the ground, Childers said.

While they sat on the ledge, part of the rock broke loose, causing Hibbitts to fall about 30 feet. He landed on his back and a 5- to 10-pound rock fell on his chest, Childers said. Mick scrambled down to assist Hibbitts, but slipped and fell about 12 feet. She was unable to walk, due to her significantly sprained ankle, but was able to call 911 for help.

Hibbitts, found to have a “serious spinal-related injury,” was immobilized and placed on a backboard, the sergeant said. Mick was stable, but unable to move on her own.

Due to the steep terrain and the dangers involved with moving the pair, Crook and Deschutes counties’ search and rescue personnel were called to the scene, Childers said.

Deschutes County SAR teams were able to use high-angle technical rescue techniques to lower both fall victims to safety. Hibbitts was flown by AirLink helicopter to St. Charles Bend, while Mich was taken by Crook County Fire ambulance to St. Charles Prineville.

"The Crook County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind those seeking to enjoy the many outdoor opportunities offered in Central Oregon to exercise good judgment," Childers wrote in a news release.

"The sheriff’s office recommends that those interested in hiking the scenic Crooked River Canyon stay on established trails and avoid hiking below the rimrock, as rock often falls from above and can seriously injure or kill persons below," he added. "The sheriff’s office also discourages any person from climbing in the Crooked River Canyon."

"The Crook County Sheriff’s Office sincerely appreciates the response and assistance provided by members of Crook County Fire Rescue, Crook County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, and AirLink," Childers wrote.

Article Topic Follows: Accidents and Crashes
crook county
search and rescue

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Barney Lerten

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