August 3rd, 2011
02:26 PM ET

Woman survives 50-foot fall off wilderness cliff

Pamela Salant

A Oregon woman was in a Portland hospital Wednesday after falling 50 feet from a wilderness cliff, breaking her leg in two places and surviving more than three days on wild berries, caterpillars and creek water.

An Oregon National Guard helicopter pulled Pamela Salant, 28, to safety Tuesday afternoon, more than three days after she fell from the cliff after going on a hike in the Mount Hood National Forest, local media reported.

"She's beat up but she's alive, and she's going to be OK," Salant's boyfriend, Aric Essig, told CNN affiliate KATU-TV in Portland late Tuesday. "She had moments of being scared, but she said she had moments where she was just very determined. ... It was down to survival. She thought she was going to die."

The two had gone in separate directions around noon Saturday in search of a better campsite near Bear Lake, according to the TV station.

"I walked all around the lake expecting to meet up with her at some point, and I walked all the way back to the camp and just didn't see her," Essig told KATU. He called the sheriff's office after she hadn't showed up by Sunday morning.

Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler told KATU that searchers used two shoe prints found over the three days to determine the direction Salant traveled and narrowed their search from there.

A copter spotted her Tuesday afternoon sitting on a log near a creek. She had no camping equipment or survival gear with her when she got lost, deputies told CNN affilate KOIN-TV in Portland.

Hood River sheriff's Detective Matt English told KOIN that Salant ate berries and catepillars for nourishment. Essig told KOIN his girlfriend covered herself in moss for warmth and tied her underwear to stop bleeding on a deep cut on her knee.

Family members told CNN affiliate WHDH-TV in Boston that Salant was an experienced hiker, but they hadn't talked to her since her rescue.

Now they can't wait to hear from her.

“I thought I’d never see her ever again,” her brother, Peter Salant, told WHDH. “I was hoping - there was so much I had never told her that I was hoping I’d get a chance to say, and now I do.”

The injured woman, in a statement from Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, said she would speak to the media next week.

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Filed under: Hikers • Oregon
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. CSnSC

    Tough chick! No survival equipment but her own brain and amazing will to live. I'll buy her book.

    August 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Indeed. She looks very manly

      August 3, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • henry

      she could have fallen forever into the abyss

      August 4, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. banasy

    What an amazing story!
    I'll just borrow the book from my library...

    Hi, there, CSinSC!

    August 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CSnSC

    Hello b, heres a ruf outline: crazy-strong woman falls off cliff, demolishes her leg, shakes it off, finds food, water, shelter, finds a cool stream to wait for a ride home.

    August 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Christine

    I can't wait for the episode on 'I shouldn't be alive' or 'I survived'.

    August 3, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Curious

    I always wondered how caterpillars tasted. Kudos to a woman who knows her survival skills.

    August 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HIKER

    SEE, there are tales of survival to be heard! I for one would like to hear more, instead of all the painful side of things people go thru. It would give reassurence to those suffering from all sorts of trauma.
    Remember... "this to shall pass"

    August 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy

    *Very* rough draft...

    August 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CSnSC

    Touche, and ouch !

    August 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy

    Wow! Did anyone notice that the picture of her was courtesy of the Hood River County Sheriff's Office?
    Meaning they probably took the picture *after* her rescue!
    She's smiling!
    Whatta gal!

    August 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • MT

      Based on the background, it's probably off her driver's license.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |

    women have built in airbags....2 of them..

    August 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amom

      It is why we stay afloat.

      August 3, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HIKER

    @ Banasy ...the police were probably given that picture by a family member. I would think she may be trying to recup, just saying. 🙂

    August 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. HIKER

    @ Ruffnutt ....Got ya on that one buddy, LMAO

    August 3, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy

    Good point.
    I'd rather think she's a real trooper,

    August 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy



    That's my boy....

    August 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. HIKER

    @ Banasy... Like Ruffnutt said they got airbags! how's yours sweetie! yum yum!

    August 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
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