Unconscious hiker 'hoisted out by pure muscle' from deep Wash. canyon
Technical rescue crews managed to save the man after weather conditions prevented a helicopter from responding
Kristin M. Kraemer
Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. — A hiker had to be rescued from Palouse Falls State Park on Tuesday after he was knocked unconscious by a falling rock.
The 28-year-old Walla Walla man and his wife were nearing the bottom of the falls in the deep canyon when the rock became dislodged from a cliff above the couple and fell.
The rock was described as being the size of a football, according to a Facebook post by the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
The man — whose name was not released — had to be "hoisted out by pure muscle" by technical rescue crews since Tuesday's windy weather prevented the Life Flight helicopter from getting down to the remote rescue location, the sheriff's office said.
Palouse Falls is in north Franklin County, an approximate 1-hour, 45-minute drive from Pasco. It was declared the state waterfall in 2014.
Visitors to the park often leave the fenced overlook and hike down narrow trails to get an up-close view of the water of the Palouse River plunging 198 feet off basalt rock.
The 911 call came in at 3:20 p.m. as other hikers were helping the couple, the sheriff's office said.
Deputies were assisted by Franklin County Fire Districts 1 and 3, Pasco and Connell fire departments and Columbia Basin Dive Rescue.
The man was flown by helicopter to a local hospital for treatment. He was conscious and alert during the flight, the sheriff's office said.
Firefighters from District 3 asked visitors to the park to "be safe and stay off trails that are not marked or approved."
"Reminder to visitors. Palouse Falls is a beautiful location where many people can enjoy the wonders of nature and breathtaking scenery," the sheriff's office post said.
"The cliffs and the river are unforgiving to mistakes, missteps and inattention. Please enjoy these locations with utmost safety in mind."
(c)2021 Tri-City Herald (Kennewick, Wash.)