A woman hiking alone in Sequoia National Park who fell into a river and got hurt has been airlifted to safety, the California Highway Patrol said Monday.
The 33-year-old from Southern California fell about 2 p.m. Friday while walking along the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River. She suffered what the CHP described as “significant but non-life-threatening injuries.”
She slid and fell 15 feet before falling another 15 feet into the river, but couldn’t climb out of the river gorge, the CHP said.
Margaret “Sam” Wilson, of North Hollywood, said she had stopped to take a picture and accidentally dropped her day pack down a steep embankment into the water.
She made her way down to the river and got the pack out of the water, started hiking up the steep gorge and fell backwards into the river.
“I took that tumble backwards,” she said. “I knew the fall broke my arm.”
She said she had a compound fracture in her upper left arm.
Wilson, a camper and backpacker, said she owns a Spot satellite rescue beacon but didn’t bring it because “I was just going up for the hour and half hike.”
She got out of the river and found a flat area to rest. She yelled for help and used a whistle.
When the sun went down, she covered her head to keep warm as best she could. Temperatures were in the 30s, according to the National Park Service.
“I laid there and shivered,” she said, and endured the pain of her broken arm.
When day broke, she used a handkerchief to make a sling and got herself into better position to be seen and started calling for help again.
About 1:30 p.m. Saturday, a group of hikers heard and spotted her and notified park rangers.
The National Park Service said it received a call shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday that a hiker who had parked at the Potwisha campground was missing. A few minutes later, another call was received that hikers heard someone calling for help.
Responding rangers heard the woman’s cries and found her along the river below lower Marble Falls at about 3,000 feet elevation, said Dana Dierkes, spokeswoman for Sequoia National Park.
Park Service rangers and Tulare County Search and Rescue team members readied the injured hiker to be airlifted to safety. A CHP helicopter took her to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno.
Wilson said she’s very grateful to her rescuers.
“They made me so comfortable,” she said. “Everybody was great. My heart goes out to them.”