Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, Feb. 29 @ 5:42 p.m. / Emergencies

Del Norte SAR, Sheriff, Smith River Fire Rescue Hiker Stranded Near Smith River Mouth; Victim Had Spent the Night In Shorts and a T-Shirt, Sheriff Says

An unidentified man was nearly unconscious, turning blue and slightly convulsing after he spent Wednesday night in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt near the mouth of the Smith River, according to Del Norte County Sheriff Garrett Scott.

A county road crew doing work at the Mouth of Smith River Road spotted the man on the narrow spit of land across the river at about 10:45 a.m. Thursday, Scott said. The man had hiked from the lighthouse — Scott said he wasn’t sure which one — and wound up stranded by the incoming tide, the sheriff told the Wild Rivers Outpost.

“Across the river he was waving his arms and crawling on his hands and knees and they thought something’s wrong with that guy so they called us,” Scott said. “We bought a new Polaris rescue vehicle, a 4-wheel drive, so we loaded that up and went down there and picked him up. I’m glad we got to him before the tide came in.”

Scott said firefighters with the Smith River Fire Protection District showed him, Deputy Dylan Balch and two Search & Rescue volunteers how to get out onto the spit. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was also willing to hoist the victim to safety if needed. When they reached the victim, they stood him up, wrapped him in a blanket and put them in their SUV with the heat turned on full blast before heading back.

An ambulance met them at Kellogg Road and transported the man to Sutter Coast Hospital to be treated for hypothermia, Scott said.
Scott said the man was lucky since the tide was starting to come back in by the time he was rescued.

“When we found him he was in bad shape. He would not have lasted long,” the sheriff told the Outpost. “Our crew loaded him up. He was talking and we gave him some food and water, but he was still hypothermic.”


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