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Sheriff lauds rescue crews

Deputy carried injured hiker to safety in darkness

— A search and rescue case originally reported as a woman with a broken ankle who managed to hobble to safety with the help of other hikers turned out to be a full-fledged rescue with the injured woman getting a piggy-back ride from a deputy.

Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said more details came to light after his initial report of an exhausting weekend involving a half-dozen search and rescue cases. The Chronicle carried the initial story in its Sept. 18 issue.

The call came in at 6 p.m. Sept. 14 for a 24-year-old woman with a possible broken ankle. She was reported in the boulder field by Lewis Lake near Rainy Pass off state Highway 20. Rogers said initial information indicated other hikers helped the woman get to the trailhead, and then to medical assistance.

Then Rogers learned the rest of the story. He said the woman, whose name wasn’t recorded, was three miles up the trail at Heather Pass and broke her ankle in the boulder field.

Deputy Ottis Buzzard, Aero Methow Rescue’s Vikki Buzzard and Search and Rescue members Mark Matson, Ruth Payne, Rick Leduc and Andrew Lederer hiked in. Because of the rough terrain, they were unable to use a wheeled sled for the rescue, Rogers said.

Once the woman’s injuries were stabilized by Vikki Buzzard, deputy Buzzard “put the woman on his back and then hiked back out to the trailhead with her, through the boulder field, Rogers said. “All this was done at night, in the dark.”

He praised the rescue crew — and especially the deputy.

“They are all an invaluable asset to this county, and Ottis, he’s definitely one in-shape stud,” Rogers said.

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