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SPW 50


August 29, 2009,


FROM:                                    Robert W. Wilson
                                                Supervisory Border Patrol Agent
                                                Metaline Falls Station

SUBJECT:                              Successful Search and Rescue

On 08/28/09 at approximately 1945 hours, Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office contacted Spokane Border Patrol to request the assistance of Metaline Falls Border Patrol Agents in the search of three elderly hikers lost in the vicinity of Frater Lake.  The hikers were identified as females, two in their 80s and one in her mid 60s and had last been seen by a fourth hiker at 1430 hours.  The hiker that had made it back to call for assistance advised that the three other hikers had little water.  The temperature on this date was close to 95 degrees. 

Due to the fact that this appeared to be a life and death situation because of possible heat exhaustion, I instructed our available personnel to the area.  Border Patrol Agent and Canine Handler, Sean Huntsman with canine Britt, responded to the area.  Border Patrol Agents Mike Avey and Justin Fox brought two ATVs to the area.  Border Patrol Agent Chris Levins and I also responded to the area. 

At the Incident Command, located at Frater Lake, Pend Oreille Sergeant Youk advised all BP units of the situation.  There were three ladies that were lost in the vicinity of Frater Lake.  The fourth hiker had left the other three and went for help.  She believed that the three were approximately 7-8 miles up a single-track trail that was inaccessible by ATV.  She advised that the three lady hikers were elderly with two being over 80 years old and the third in her mid sixties.  The three lost hikers had little water when they were last been seen at 1430 hours. 

This group of Border Patrol Agents had been involved in the rescue of a Downs Syndrome hiker approximately 14 months previously in the same area.  These agents were somewhat familiar to the area.  Agents Justin Fox and Mike Avey took the ATV’s up a back road to begin a search.  Agent Sean Huntsman and Search and Rescue personnel walked up the trail the ladies had traveled on.  Agent Chris Levins and I went around to the back side of the trail where the three hikers were believed to be lost. 

At approximately 2200 hours, a civilian who had taken his personal motorcycle up the trails, returned to advise that he had found the three ladies, that they appeared in good health, had provided water for them and advised them to stay put until rescue personnel arrived.  From this subject’s description of the area, Justin Fox and Chris Levins were able to travel by ATV until they could go no further and then by foot for approximately two additional miles.  They were able to locate the three hikers and with the help of Search and Rescue personnel they were able to walk the ladies out of the area and then transport them by ATV the remainder of the distance.
At approximately 0315 hours, all hikers arrived at our staging area and were examined by the Pend Oreille County Paramedic and determined to not need any further medical care.  At 0330 am agents departed the Incident Command and returned to the Metaline Falls Station.  The three hikers were identified as Walraven, Seral, DOB X/XX/26;  Lorman, Caroline, DOB X/XX/26; Berlin, Veronica, DOB X/XX/45.

I wish to stress that the efforts of Border Patrol Agents Justin Fox, Chris Levins, Mike Avey and Sean Huntsman were instrumental in the successful location and rescue of these three individuals.  Pend Oreille Sheriff’s Office had provided one sergeant and one deputy but neither of these individuals left their vehicles to assist in the rescue.  Therefore I believe that these Border Patrol Agents went above and beyond normal operations and should be praised for their efforts.