Weekly incidents at Sequoia-Kings Canyon: Kaweah River and high elevations prove dangerous

The Middle Fork of the Kaweah River remains deceptively treacherous, as an incident in this area last week illustrates.

Ash Mountain 
8/7/2018: A 20-year-old female from Lindsay, Calif., was wading in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River near Hospital Rock when the current swept her downstream. She called out for help and her 15-year-old brother grabbed her and they both received minor injuries to their extremities from striking rocks. They were able to self-extricate and refused ambulance transport.

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8/7/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a motor vehicle collision at Potwisha Grade. A vehicle had run out of gas and was backing down the hill when it struck another vehicle. There was minimal damage and no injuries.

8/8/2019: A 56-year-old male was reported to be hanging on and close to falling from the Marble Falls Trail. It was determined that he was on the trail and had an obvious fractured leg. A litter team was sent to carry him out, but due to declining condition, he was removed by short-haul operations and transferred to an ambulance.

8/9/2019: A Ranger responded to an unknown-aged male that sustained unknown injuries after losing control of his motorcycle near South Fork Campground. Prior to arriving on scene, the patient was already extracted and transported by an ambulance. An investigation was conducted by a ranger on scene.

8/11/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a vehicle on its side on the Generals Highway. The driver stated he lost his brakes coming downhill and intentionally drove the vehicle into the hillside to come to a stop. Two patients were transported by ambulance to the hospital. 


8/6/2019: An 86-year-old female from Three Rivers, Calif., experienced nausea and general weakness at the bottom of the Crystal Cave trail. Rangers used a stair chair device to carry the patient to the parking area. She refused ambulance transport against medical advice.

8/6/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a 13-year-old female who was experiencing nausea, dizziness, and general malaise at the Giant Forest Museum. After assessment, her parents refused ambulance transport against medical advice with a doctor consult.

8/7/2019: Rangers responded to a report of an 85-year-old female somewhere on the Crescent Meadow Trail with chest pains. A search was initiated before receiving a third-hand report that the female returned to her room at the Wuksachi Lodge. The patient was never located.

8/10/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a female in her 40s with chest pain, dizziness, and blurred vision at the Lodgepole Market. She was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

8/11/2019: Rangers received a report of a missing 14-year-old female in the Giant Forest area. Rangers began a search in the area. Rangers in Ash Mountain and Grant Grove posted themselves at the entrance stations. The subject was located in the parking area approximately two-and-a-half hours later.

Mineral King

8/8/19: Rangers received a report of an overdue party of four males who were to exit out of Sawtooth Pass on 8/8. The males had not exited the trailhead on the morning of 8/9 and rangers began to mobilize a search-and-rescue for the party. The group was located on 8/10 on the Timber Gap Trail after aerial reconnaissance. They stated that they had gotten lost while traveling up the east side of Sawtooth Pass. They then travelled cross-country down to Cliff 
Creek where they were able to find the Timber Gap Trail.

8/9/19: Rangers encountered 71 year old male at Lower Monarch Lake that had fallen 
approximately 8 feet and sustained a laceration to the forehead. The male denied any need for medical care. Rangers escorted the male to the trailhead. 
High Sierra 
8/5/2019: Rangers responded to a report of an individual with knee injuries at the Crabtree Ranger Station. The patient was treated and released.

8/5/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a 53-year-old female experiencing signs of acute mountain sickness near the Tyndall Creek Ranger Station. The patient was evacuated from wilderness to the Ash Mountain Helibase where she was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

8/5/2019: Rangers responded to a report of a 22-year-old female experiencing gastrointestinal distress near Guyot Pass. The patient was assisted back to Rock Creek Ranger Station for the night. The patient self-evacuated on 8/6/2019.

8/6/2019: Rangers responded to an emergency satellite distress call near the Rock Creek Ranger Station. The hiker had accidentally activated their device and were not in distress. 


Grant Grove

8/5/2019: Ambulance 5 responded to an ankle injury at the Grant Grove Visitor Center. Patient refused transport. 
Sierra Crest 
8/4/2019: A SPOT device notification was received from a Pacific Crest Trail hiker crossing Forrester Pass stating that they saw a possibly deceased person below the trail. Helicopter 552 flew a reconnaissance and located a person with injuries. A recovery was performed on 8/5/2019 using Helicopter 552 and rangers climbing down to the subject’s location.

8/5/2019: Rangers received a notification through an InReach device of a 31-year-old male at Palisades Lake experiencing signs of acute mountain sickness. The patient and hiking partner hiked toward the LeConte Ranger Station where he was evaluated. Rangers determined that the patient should be evacuated from the wilderness. Helicopter 552 evacuated him to Ash Mountain where he was transferred to a ground ambulance for transport to a hospital.

8/6/2019: Rangers received a SPOT device activation for an injured hiker in the Upper Basin area. The Bench Lake ranger was able to reach the subject that evening and determined that the individual was stable but unable to walk. On 8/7, the subject was evacuated by the park helicopter and transferred to an awaiting ambulance at the Ash Mountain Helibase.

8/7/2019: Rangers received a report of two SPOT SOS activations in an unnamed drainage to the west of Mt. Clarence King. The park helicopter responded and contacted the two men who were uninjured and healthy. The men had gotten into the drainage and were unable to get themselves out due to the terrain. The Rae Lakes ranger hiked to them and on 8/8 began to guide them out of the drainage and back to the trail.

8/11/2019: Rangers received a SPOT device activation in the area of LeConte Ranger Station. Rangers made contact with a 29-year-old male with a heart condition that he believed to be aggravated from the altitude. Helicopter 552 evacuated the patient from the wilderness and was transported to a hospital from Ash Mountain Helibase by ground ambulance. 

Cedar Grove

8/6/2019: Rangers contacted a group of three adult males and one child swimming in a 
dangerous stretch of river. One male was arrested for under the influence of alcohol, the child was taken into Child Protective Services custody, and the other two males were issued mandatory appearance citations for creating a hazardous condition. 
Cedar Grove Rangers continued to help staff the wilderness desk at the Grant Grove Visitor Center issuing wilderness permits, answering visitor questions, and swearing in Junior Rangers.

8/8/2019: Rangers and helicopter 552 responded to an inReach activation at a ridgeline above Grouse Lake for a 72-year-old male who was unable to walk/hike out due to an ankle injury sustained the night before. The patient was flown to the Cedar Grove helispot where he was assessed by Ambulance 4. He self-transported to the hospital.

8/10/2019: Ambulance 4 responded to the Cedar Grove Visitor Center for a 56-year-old male with sudden-onset shortness of breath and a history of recent cardiac bypass surgery. The patient was transported with advanced life support care to a rendezvous ambulance in Grant Grove. 

Revenue and Fee Management Branch

 Entrance Stations:

There was extremely high visitor volume at Ash Mountain Entrance Station on Saturday, Aug. 10. Traffic backed up to the Totem during mid-day with wait times around 35 minutes. The station was able to clear the line by 1:30 pm. Higher volume likely due to the nice weather and final summer visits before school starts. 
Many bear sightings in Dorst and Lodgepole in the evenings. Campers are generally being compliant with food storage. 
Law Enforcement Services
The week of 8/05/2019-8/11/2019, there were incidents that required assistance for all the parks that use the SRCC: Pinnacles NP (6), Whiskeytown Recreation Area (10), Channel Islands NP (4), Sequoia NP (125), and Kings Canyon (93).

PARTING SHOT: Another river warning because there can never be enough. The Middle Fork of the Kaweah River is running higher than normal for this time of year because there is still melting snow in the high country. Stay away from water’s edge if unfamiliar with the river. What may appear as tranquil water could have a strong undertow and, most likely, there are whitewater rapids waiting just down river.

One thought on “Weekly incidents at Sequoia-Kings Canyon: Kaweah River and high elevations prove dangerous

  • August 17, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Thank you for this news. Being an old Ambulance 14 EMT, I still like to keep up with what’s going on!


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