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. banasy


    August 3, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      The boyfriend is lucky she was found alive because the American lynch mob would have convicted and sentenced him sight unseen.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    The plot needs a "cannot."

    August 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    A caterpillar would taste pretty good if you were starving.
    Try them with snail butter.

    August 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. fernace

    Wow is right! So many things could have gone wrong, like meeting up with a bear or Sasquatch! That would have sucked! Luckily she's recovering, & probably planning her next hiking trip! 🙂 More power to her!!

    August 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. joann

    Thank,God she's alive.God,must have been with her. JoAnn Bartholomew

    August 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Shawn

      So would that mean that if she would've died that God was not with her?

      August 3, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JD

      God is ALWAYS with her. Just wasn't her time.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      You have to wonder about this god that picks and chooses so indiscriminately. All those other hikers who have died over the years–they must have been some very bad people. Or maybe, just maybe, she survived from the actions the article actually describes.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donald

      If God was "with" her she wouldn't have fallen in the first place.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  6. DJ DROBRO420

    only 3 days and already eating bugs...the human body can survive weeks with no food

    August 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      So, your strategy would have been to deplete your energy supply over a couple of weeks and then look for something to eat? Are you seriously faulting her? Because if so you are a major dweeb.

      August 4, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Schoolgirl

    So, who is paying the rescue costs?

    August 3, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amom

      You and I, honey, but this is money well spent. USA is great, we value life. Except for unborn babies of course.

      August 3, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ancient Curse

    Hiking is freakin' dangerous, people! When we will finally realize that this whole "walking around" thing is for the well-trained alone! But people watch power-walking during the Olympics, and everybody thinks they can do it! Insane. I hear people are even walking to raise money for things! Better save it for the medical bills! Freakin' liberals...

    August 3, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

      I got a genuine chuckle from that one.

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

    You can survive 3 days on nothing but water, so I don't see how eating bugs were key here. If she had been there longer, then yes. But you can even last 3 days without water.

    That said, glad to see she made it back, and kudos to her spirit to stay alive.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

      She probably thought she was gonna die and was just doing all that stuff she hadn't got around to yet. Eat a bug, light a fart, etc.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      Whether you *can* survive or not is not the point. The question is what increases your chances of survival. Whether you keep energy coming in, support wound repair, avoid headaches and maintain clarity of mind would probably go a long way toward survival if it went on much longer. People with a little information to dole out often sound like the biggest fools.

      August 4, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Awesome

      Because she knew exactly when she would be rescued right? Maybe had she known that after 3 days she would be saved she wouldn't have eaten bugs, but with not knowing then you should keep your energy levels as high as possible rather than wait weeks and then say damn I need food but now I am delirious and have no energy to go get it.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bernardo

    3 days without food is no big deal. There was no reason to eat bugs.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • huxley

      I was thinking exactly the same thing. If she was lost for just 3 days, there's no real need to start eating bugs. Its actually a little dangerous, because many bugs are poisonous.

      She had creek water. If she also had access to some leaves to make a crude shelter, she probably could have survived for several weeks even without eating bugs.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve_PA

      I hope for your sakes that you never get lost in the woods. If you don't know when or if someone will find you, it is generally best not to calculate how many days you can survive without food and then wait that long before starting to take advantage of natural sources of nutrients. You aren't likely to make it.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • lost_in_office

      @Steve_PA,@Rafael. Three days is too short to a time to start eating bugs. Nobody is saying she should'nt have eaten anything. She had other food sources. Bugs for most people are a last resort. 3 days is not last resort territory. And like somebody pointed out there is danger in eating bugs.

      Three days injured as she was in the wilderness is very tough. But I would not advise anybody to start eating the strange and unfamiliar inside three days. Her first actions (as it seems she did to some extent) should have been to tend to her injuries, make a splint/crutches and then shelter.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. tonysgirl1959

    @Schoolgirl....who cares who's paying? It's not like she did this on purpose or was stupid about it. It was an accident, and that's what rescuers are for.
    I am very proud of this young woman. She did well for herself. She's a tough cookie. Good job and God Bless!

    August 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      The fact that this was her first thought signals deeper problems in her relationship to others.

      August 4, 2011 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. HIKER

    @ Ancient Curse...LMAO, dude hope your not serious? LOL

    August 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JD

    The caterpillars would make me barf up the wild berries.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bad Boyfriend

    Why would her boyfriend wait until Sunday to call the police? Nice boyfriend. Not.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

      He probably thought she dumped him again, but when she didn't show up for coffee, he knew something was wrong.

      August 3, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. anony

    I like how CNN used the word "surviving"... heh. You can live without food for months. You can live without water for about a week.

    August 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

      Yeah, but no Internet? Eek!

      August 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      Ah, now it's months. A few posts down and we will be getting into years. Wonder how long you would last with your limited knowledge and misguided strategy.

      August 4, 2011 at 12:06 am | Report abuse |
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