Sheriff: Busiest year ever for volunteer search, rescue team

GRANITE FALLS, Wash. (AP) — Snohomish County search and rescue crews came to the aid of two hikers over the weekend in what the county sheriff's office says has been the busiest year ever recorded for the volunteer search and rescue team.

The Daily Herald reports by the end of Labor Day weekend the search and rescue team had been called to nearly 330 missions. In previous years that number has been from 200 to 280, sheriff’s office spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe said in an email.

“No previous years have ever been this high by the end of summer,” she said. “We believe it is a result of both good weather and due to COVID-19 folks are likely looking outdoors for summer activities.”

On Saturday, rescue teams were called to Vesper Peak and Blanca Lake, both in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Around 2 p.m., reports came in that a woman who was hiking near Vesper Peak had a broken collarbone and severe concussion after she fell off a cliff, O’Keefe said.

Helicopters were undergoing maintenance and not available, so a team walked into the wilderness to reach the woman. She was out by about 9 p.m. and taken to a hospital in a personal vehicle, O’Keefe said.

Around 6 p.m., crews were called to help a hiker with a broken ankle near Blanca Lake. A team also hiked in to bring her out and she was transported to a hospital, O’Keefe said.

“While we do have commissioned deputies that coordinate our SAR Unit, we would not be able to conduct these missions if it wasn’t for our volunteers,” Sheriff Adam Fortney wrote on Facebook Saturday night.