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. zoundsman

    I thought she looked wholesome and very cute. People and their own insecurities crack me up.
    The more homely the person, the more they try to find some petty fault in others. I hope they hall off a cliff
    and have a thorn branch stuck where ot belongs.

    August 3, 2011 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • dodfather

      i've had a thorn branch stuck there and it felt good

      August 3, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • zoundsman

      Cool, now brush your teeth with it.

      August 4, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. AwesomeDude

    I'd like to see Bear Grylls fall off a 50 foot cliff, break his leg, and survive the next 3 day on bugs. Time to replace him with this woman! Woman vs. Wild!

    August 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jill L

      Awesome, Dude. 😀

      August 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lynn

    This is just celebrating 'stupid'.

    August 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Lynn..why is it stupid that someone got hurt while hiking?

      August 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      You speak with the assumption you know all the facts. You assume she did something stupid, and her foolishness caused her to fall. Just be happy she was found in relatively good shape and take your negativity elsewhere.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corvus1

      Get out of the kitchen and learn how to live.

      August 3, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      They lost me at "A Oregon woman"

      August 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cbtld

      Spoken like someone that spends his/her time on a couch eating ice cream and doesn't know a thing about exercise or the outdoors. Am I right or am I just being presumptuous like yourself? How can this woman be called stupid when she intelligently used what was around her to survive her ordeal?

      August 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Can

    To all the idiots commenting that it is not important to eat anything for the first few days to week being lost: yes the human body can go without food for approximately 28 days however this is not mean you can just sit around drinking water for 2 weeks. In a survival situation there is a chance no one will find you (depending on the remoteness of your location) and you need to keep your energy level up to withstand cool nights, rain etc..., ward off depression, stay positive, and potentially have to find your own way out (which will certainly be physically demanding). If you just drink water your energy levels will continue to drop, first the body will burn fat and then resort to burning muscle, eventually you wont be able to move at all. When lost the first thing to do is try to build a shelter, then attempt to start a fire, and look for food and water, and finally try to get your bearings to determine the best possible direction to travel to get out. These survival experts are quite competent; try starving yourself for a couple of days and see how good you feel...

    August 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      What a complete idiot this woman is.

      August 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Annunaki


    August 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Robert

    SERE school 101

    August 3, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jessicaber

    It takes a month before some one can die of starvation, maybe three ... I forget. It is the creek water that saved her.

    August 3, 2011 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jryan

    ...on the next " I Survived. "

    August 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Amom

    It is so nice to read a story w/ a happy ending. I am glad for her and for her family and friends and I am rejoicing w/ them.

    August 3, 2011 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Steve

    Your right you must always travel in pairs in the wilderness and yes shes an idiot. It was her stupidity thatvcaused the whole thing.

    August 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Know It All

    I can survive anything! Just give me a bottle a water and some jerky. I'm smarter than everyone here.....a darn genius i am. I say go for it! Hike anywhere, anytime and just wear shorts and a t-shirt. Who's your Daddy?

    August 3, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mmmmm

    What is up with these copycats...couldn'tya found a better way to gain 10sec-kmart fame from CNN and compete with the yosemite tragedy?

    August 3, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steph

    I find it incredible all these people that know so much about surviving after falling and breaking your leg in 2 places. I pray that none of you ever are in the same situation- frankly I don't think you would make it with your arrogance.

    This is in addition to the individuals that are from the area and are making assumptions about how planned out it was. The split up to look for a better camp site- and yet you have the gall to say they are stupid and wasting your resources? Please find a new profession- you are lacking compassion.

    On a positive note- it is amazing to know that this woman could make it through all that. She is a very strong woman to make it through that fall, broken bones, and being lost!

    August 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Know It All

    Again I say "Who's your Daddy"!!!

    August 3, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. shar

    I couldn't get past the first two words. Who wrote this article? Anyone else read this before it was sent out?

    August 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
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