Hiking & Trails

Idaho man with punctured lung found in wilderness, one of 3 rescues in 2 days

A seriously injured Idaho man was rescued from the wilderness of Valley County after officials fought bad weather and rugged backcountry to find him — and his was just one of three rescues made over the past 48 hours, two of them in Valley County.

At around 2 p.m. Tuesday, the Valley County Sheriff’s Office received a report that a man was badly injured while hunting for antler sheds near the South Fork of the Salmon River, according to a news release. Cody M. Morrow, of Kooskia, was in the Bear Creek Drainage, where he was unable to move due to “numerous broken bones, head trauma and a punctured lung,” authorities said.

Morrow, 29, was about 5 miles south of Yellowjacket Ranch. Members of the ranch offered to assist in Morrow’s rescue, but they advised the Sheriff’s Office that it would take about 5 hours to hike to his location, a trek that would include crossing the Salmon River.

The Sheriff’s Office requested help from LifeFlight, which was unable to fly due to low-hanging clouds. Officials then contacted Two Bear Air, an aviation search-and-rescue operation out of Montana. The Two Bear Air crew terminated its rescue efforts after encountering bad weather 30 minutes into the flight. The Valley County officials turned to the U.S. Air Force Search and Rescue Command and the Idaho Air National Guard, which also were unable to help because of poor weather and understaffed crews.

Valley County officials developed a plan Tuesday to rescue Morrow on Wednesday morning with the help of the Guard. In the meantime, Valley County Search and Rescue headed to Yellowjacket Ranch — a trek that took 11 hours. Members helped prepare Morrow to stay in the woods overnight.

The Guard left Boise on Wednesday and located Morrow by 8:25 a.m. Two medics descended from the Black Hawk helicopter to secure Morrow and prepare him for transport. He was hoisted into the helicopter by 9:45 a.m. and flown to Cascade, where Cascade Fire and EMS met the helicopter and transported Morrow to a hospital.

Morrow is expected to make a full recovery, according to the release. The cause of his injuries wasn’t immediately clear.

“We wish to thank the many agencies who assisted with this challenging recovery,” Capt. Jason Speer of the Valley County Sheriff’s Office said in the release. “We caution people to be very careful when heading into the backcountry of Idaho. While spring has arrived, most backcountry areas are still not accessible. This recovery was prolonged due to bad weather and snow.”

Speer and Valley County Sheriff Patti Bolen extended thanks to the agencies and volunteers that offered help.

“Thankfully with brave volunteers from Yellowjacket Ranch, Idaho National guard and the Valley County Sheriff Search and Rescue, we were able to get Morrow off the hill and to the medical attention he desperately needed,” Bolen said in the release.

Other incidents

The National Guard also assisted in the rescue of an injured 21-year-old man and his wife in Yellow Pine on Wednesday after receiving a request for help from the Valley County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday night.

The man and his wife were shed hunting, according to a press release, and were stuck “along the river in steep terrain.” A hoist rider and flight paramedic were lowered to their site from a Guard helicopter.

The man suffered multiple injuries when a large boulder rolled across his legs. The aircraft transferred him and his wife to the Cascade airport, where the man was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. He’s in stable condition.

On Tuesday, the Guard teamed with the Boise Fire Department to help rescue two individuals in Stites who were stranded inside a residence because of flooding along the South Fork of the Clearwater River. There were five people in the residence originally but three were able to escape on their own, the press release said.