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The original item was published from 3/20/2023 6:39:59 PM to 4/4/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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Sheriff's Office

Posted on: March 20, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Spokane County Search and Rescue Locates Lost Hiker-SRASU Rescue 3 Called to Conduct a Hoist Rescue

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Spokane County Search and Rescue Locates Lost Hiker

SRASU Rescue 3 Called in to Conduct a Hoist Rescue


Spokane County Search and Rescue (SAR) Volunteers, Spokane Regional Air Support Unit’s (SRASU) Air-1, and Spokane Valley Fire Fighters responded to a reported lost hiker in the wilderness of the Mica Peak area Friday evening.  After almost a 10-hour search, SAR Volunteer ground personnel (hiked approx. 7.5 miles with a 3,000’ elevation gain) located the adult lost hiker, who was extremely cold and weak.  With no landing zone available, SRASU Rescue 3 responded to conduct a hoist rescue.   He was airlifted off the mountain and transferred to ground crews for additional treatment before being taken to the hospital for additional care.  Thankfully, he is expected to make a full recovery.     

On March 17, 2023, at approximately 7:45 pm, Spokane County SAR Volunteers, Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputies, Spokane Valley Fire, and an SRASU Air-1 flight crew responded to assist on a reported lost hiker.


The search, overseen by Search and Rescue Coordinator, Deputy P. Pfeifer, continued throughout the night in the freezing temperatures and snowy conditions on the ground.  At approximately 5:50 am the following morning, SAR Volunteers, hiking approximately 7.5 miles with a 3,000’ elevation gain on foot, located the hiker.  Without a suitable landing zone to safely transport the hiker out of the very remote and rugged area, SRASU Rescue 3 was summoned to assist at 6:00 am.


Just after 7:00 am, Rescue 3 was airborne and heading to the area.  With no viable landing zone and with the victim unable to walk out under his own power, the decision was made to conduct a hoist rescue.  Rescue 3 transported him to the Liberty Lake Golf Course area and landed, where he was safely transferred to awaiting Spokane Valley Fire and AMR crews.   


The victim was transported to a hospital for additional treatment and care.  He is expected to make a full recovery.        



Rescue 3 Crew

Senior Rescue Pilot: Jack Scanlon

Rescue Pilot: Brandon Armstrong, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant

Rescue Crew Chief: Jeff Welton, Spokane Valley Police Department Corporal

Helicopter Rescue Medic: Brett Gombasy, Spokane Valley Fire Department Firefighter/Paramedic

Helicopter Rescue Medic: Scott Niebuhr, Spokane Valley Fire Department Firefighter/Paramedic


Air-1 Crew

Senior Pilot: Jack Scanlon

Tactical Flight Officer (TFO): Makalia McKitrick, Spokane Police Officer

Tactical Flight Officer (TFO): Derek Arnold, Liberty Lake Police Officer


About the Spokane Regional Air Support Unit


The Spokane Regional Air Support Unit is comprised of Volunteer Pilots, Tactical Flight Officers (TFOs) from local law enforcement agencies, and Helicopter Rescue Medics (HRMs), Certified Firefighter/Paramedics with Spokane Valley Fire Department.   


TFOs: Deputies and Officers from the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, Spokane Valley Police Department, Spokane Police Department, and the Liberty Lake Police Department.


Air 1 and Air 2: Two OH-58’s equipped with Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR), which allows aircrews to detect heat on the ground.  FLIR can be used to locate both missing people and hiding fugitives.  

Air-1 and Air-2 are also equipped with a 30 million candle power searchlight, a GPS moving map system, and the flight crews are equipped with night vision goggles.  In addition, Air-1 is fitted with a downlink that transmits live video from the helicopter to the Mobile Command Vehicle.  The microwave downlink allows police and fire staff to see real-time video from the helicopter and make timely decisions based on what they see. 


Rescue 3: A Bell UH-1H Super Huey is equipped with a long line and hoist system for short-haul rescue missions.  The long line and hoist system allows our Helicopter Rescue Medics and Tactical Flight Officers to be lowered from Rescue 3 to retrieve a citizen that is either injured or lost in remote areas.  The primary mission for Rescue 3 is search and rescue.  

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