Sunday, August 7, 2022 at 1:59 pm La Pine firefighter/paramedics were alerted to a swimmer in distress in a very remote and rugged portion of the upper Deschutes River entrapped by the current and a down tree/log in the river (aka sweeper) and was struggling to stay above the water.
Per La Pine Fire Captain Miller: a 34 y.o. male was in distress in the river free swimming without any boat, floatation device, or life vest and had been surprised and caught in the fast current and got into trouble on a very remote and rugged part of the Deschutes River between Pringle Falls and the undeveloped Tetherow landing.
911 relayed GPS coordinates of acquaintance on shore who happen to have a cell phone. The fire district responded a QRU, two paramedic units, and a rescue engine with water rescue gear. However, firefighters could not get within a mile of the remote site by vehicle. DCSO Search Rescue Team had currently two other backcountry rescues in progress with the missing swimmer in the Terrebonne area and a motorized trail bike cash near Pine Mountain and thus were unavailable. La Pine Firefighters on foot hiked in and then hasty searched both sides of the river and were able to make contact within 90 minutes. Fortunately, the victim was eventually able to self-rescue, but was shaken, cold, and stranded. Bend Fire assisted by activating Technical Rescue 361 to assist if needed. The victim and reporting party both declined and treatment or transport but after a long hike out without foot wear required USFS law enforcement assistance to get back to their vehicle.
The La Pine Fire District wants to remind all that the Deschutes is a wild and scenic river, with cold water, strong currents, and many natural hazards. Recreating on this special river needs to be a well-planned and properly equipped venture.