Backpackers tried to save 1 of 2 fallen hikers at Mount Hood, frantic 911 calls show
PORTLAND, Ore. — Backpackers frantically tried to save the life of one of the two young Portland women who apparently fell to their deaths at Mount Hood, a series of calls to Clackamas County 911 show.
The hikers diverted shallow creek water from the unconscious yet breathing victim, covered her in a reflective blanket for warmth, spoke to her to urge her to live and performed cardio pulmonary resuscitation while coached over the phone by a 911 dispatcher.
But their efforts weren’t enough.
The last of the 11 calls to 911, more than four hours after the first, focused on leading rescuers to the site to recover the bodies.
Professional and volunteer first responders on Saturday night found best friends Emma Place and Emily Lang, both 19, at the bottom of a cliff at least 100 feet high. It’s not clear which woman was still alive when hikers first arrived.
The pair had set up a tent off the Timberline Trail in or near Paradise Park, about 6 miles west of Timberline Lodge. It’s not known how they fell. The Clackamas County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled that both women died of blunt force trauma.
Two people in a group of backpackers — a man and a woman — appeared to have been the primary phone contacts for Clackamas County 911 dispatchers. The Oregonian/OregonLive obtained recordings of the calls through a public records request. Efforts to reach the two hikers on Thursday weren’t successful.
At the beginning of the first call, before connecting with a dispatcher, the woman said, “Where are we?! Where are we?! Where are we? Paradise loop?”
When she’s connected to the dispatcher about 5:40 p.m. Saturday, she says, “We are around Mount Hood on the Paradise Loop Trail and there are some people who are on some rocks and they are not moving. It looks like they’ve fallen … we’ve been yelling at them and they’re not moving.”
The man gave a rough location and said two other members of the hiking group had gone down to check on the two people.
“They’re almost down there now. They’re getting down there to check to see if they’re OK. I don’t think they’re OK.”
Before the first call ended, the dispatcher told the callers to not hang up so that she could try to get the longitude and latitude of their location through their cellphone. The man also repeatedly described the location.
“They’re down at the patients now,” the man said to the dispatcher, apparently watching the scene from a perch above the victims.
“I think one of them is still alive,” he said.
“Hang on, hang on one second,” he then said, before yelling away from the phone, “Josh! Is she still alive? How about the other one?”
In the second call to 911, the woman told a dispatcher that the driver’s licenses of both victims had been found and shared their names, hometowns and dates of birth.
The woman also said one of the victims had no pulse and the other one is “not responsive. She’s breathing now.”
She said someone in her backpacking group hiked down to the breathing victim to place a reflective blanket on her to keep her warm.
In the seventh phone call the man further described the location.
“Those poor girls, those poor girls,” he said in a pause in the conversation.
Then he said, “We’re constantly talking to her and telling her to hang on, even though she may be unconscious. But she may hear us. I don’t know.”
In the eighth phone call, he said, “She stopped breathing.” And the call ended.
The man called back and said again that the young woman wasn’t breathing, adding that she had no pulse.
“Do you feel like the patient is beyond help?” the dispatcher asked. “Do you want to start chest compressions? We have an (American Medical Response) reach-and-treat team in the field. Do you want to start chest compressions?”
The dispatcher then relayed CPR instructions to him and he repeated them to someone else pressing on the victim’s chest.
In the final phone call, the woman told the dispatcher her location and said she would continue to blow a whistle in three long blasts every five minutes.
Lang and Place graduated in 2016 from St. Mary’s Academy in Portland.
Lang attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington, and Place went to Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.