▶️ Beaverton woman rescued on Broken Top; intoxicants ‘primary factor’

A Beaverton woman was rescued from Broken Top early Sunday morning after intoxicants keep her from being able to come down the mountain, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Deschutes County dispatch received the call around 7:10 p.m. Saturday night saying that a hiker, identified as 34-year-old Chantel Nelson, was “in trouble” while hiking near Broken Top.

Nelson’s hiking partners reported she was beginning to lose consciousness and could not continue on her own, according to Dep. Joshua Westfall, assistant search and rescue coordinator.

Two DSCO deputies and nine SAR volunteers responded.

Based on Nelson’s location and the amount of intermittent snowpack on the forest service roads in the area, reaching her location proved challenging, Westfall said.

And due to weather and the circumstances of the call, air transport was not an option at that time.

SAR resources drove up Bearwallow Rd in trucks towing two offroad SAR vehicles–DCSO SAR’s Ranger and Argo. The Deputy and volunteers then deployed up forest service road 370 to 380 Rd in the Ranger and Argo. Due to the amount of snow, these roads were later determined to be impassable for one of the offroad vehicles, resulting in some SAR volunteers having to hike in on foot, Westfall said.

SAR volunteers first reached Nelson around 12:40 a.m. and began tending to her.

After tending to her, Nelson was able to walk down the mountain with the help of the volunteers. Nelson walked to the Broken Top Trailhead where DCSO SAR vehicle Argo was waiting.

Nelson was then taken to the SAR trucks in the Argo and then provided transport into Bend at her request. Nelson declined further medical assistance at that time. DCSO resources returned to quarters at approximately 7:00 am the following morning, Westfall said.

Nelson was heavily intoxicated but not physically injured, and she is unlikely to see a bill.

“The general consensus behind that is, you know, when people get into trouble for any reason in the backcountry we want them to call as soon as possible,” said Lt. Bryan Husband, special services coordinator for the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. “If they prolong it because they’re going to get billed they’re going to get themselves into a worse situation.”

Volunteers train frequently for search and rescue missions, but there is always risk involved, and often, many resources need to be utilized.

COVID has also complicated recent missions.

“Thankfully when you’re outdoors and you’re traveling to a location, we have the benefit of spreading back out on the trail,” Husband said. “We do try to do that as much as possible so our volunteers are able to get that mask off their face and be able to breathe.”

Husband says this weekend’s rescue serves as a warning for people to recreate safely, this summer.

“I would strongly encourage those folks who are going to go out and enjoy our backdoors, don’t make it more complicated by consuming intoxicants,” Husband said. “And be safe.”

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