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.

Post by:
Filed under: Hikers • Oregon
soundoff (229 Responses)
  1. Sanity

    It is a pathology to read the comments here. I need to stop. Meanspirited know-it-alls judging people and situations of which they know little. So, she ate bugs and would have survived without doing so – why that makes her stupid is beyond me. She did the important thing, which was to survive. Lots of cultures eat bugs anyway. People in our society, or at least CNN readers, need to get off their computers more.

    August 3, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • EWGuy

      Yeah, these anonymous internet comments really are an indictment of our species...

      August 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      I couldn't agree more. It's a shame that the people with the dumbest things to say are the ones with the most time to say them.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • DJ DROBRO420

      Why are you reading internet comments if you are that easily offended?

      August 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Actually, she was extremely smart. The front page sensationalistic bit was eating bugs, but caterpillars aren't QUITE bugs.
      Most are highly nutritious, though some taste horrible. The berries are good too, they helped with electrolytes and sugar for energy, essential after a major injury.
      As for the water, even money she's going to have the heebie-jeebies for a few days from giardiasis or cryptosporidium, but that beats dead!
      So, smart for hiding one's revulsion (the texture and consistency IS a bit distressing, from my personal experience in survival training) and doing what she needed to do to survive for however long it took to be found and rescued.

      Personally, when I go camping, I bring my M1911A1 and a few magazines for it. In an emergency, I can fire three shots a second apart, which is a well recognized distress signal. THAT would give my direction far better than hoping my boot prints are found. But, that is me...

      August 3, 2011 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • RusTnuts

      I agree, so she ate some bugs. I'm pretty sure she's eaten worse things before.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Know It All

    I'M YOUR DADDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 3, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Liberty Queen

    Glad she is safe. To all you s*xist misogynists with your 1/2 in of nothing, post a pic and we will critique your... your face, stupids, not that meaningless thing you need an electron microscope to see. ROGLMFAO!!!!!

    August 3, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • HappyHarry

      Be nice. 🙂

      August 3, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Hey now! You need an atomic force microscope to find mine.
      As for my picture, the EPA forbade that when they forbade my wearing a speedo, even on a private beach.

      As for the young lady, she was VERY smart. Better to best the yuck factor and survive in case rescue is delayed than have your dead body recovered after you expire from electrolyte depletion or dehydration. Good nutrition is essential after a significant injury.
      They should make a movie about HER, especially since they made a movie about the moron who was jumping around alone in the desert and had to saw his arm off.
      You do what you need to do to see tomorrow OR you don't get to see tomorrow.
      So, were I to see her in person, I'd tell her, GOOD JOB! Get well soon!
      Ignore the mentally deficient moron brigade here. Their isolated lives are so horrible that they need to denigrate anything and anyone that they hear of, just to have a small amount of self-esteem.
      Just a few thoughts from this ancient gargoyle.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      It is disturbing that an uplifting story of survival can somehow become negative in the comments. BTW, I think she has a great smile.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      yes, exactly. I think a lot of the negative comments come from people who are unhappy with their own lives and have to take it out on other people who are actually doing something in life.

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

    Good thing that Oregon is controlled by democrats. The Republicans would have cut the funds for search and rescue and this woman would have died!

    August 3, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. steve

    At least she didn't get her arm stuck under a boulder and have to cut it off

    August 3, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Vamanoslessgo

    Oregonians ... enough said. They should have sent in hound dogs would have found her sooner .... since she took off her undies

    August 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. TRISH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hey, will you guys visit HelpFaye.ORG , a friend of mine with 2 babies is fighting for her life... Thank you

    August 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earnest T Bass

      No No No. EAT ME.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Faye has been "fighting for her life" for over ten years, even AFTER she had died. SPAMMER.
      THIS is a scam, folks.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • RusTnuts

      What does faye have to do with this story? Has faye had some repulsive things go down her throat too?

      August 3, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steveo

    Anybody else think it's weird her boyfriend didn't try to find her and just high-tailed it to the sheriff's?? I think a few shouts in the direction she left of – where are you? can you hear me? – would have saved some time. I would throw his @$$ to the curb if I were her. No sign, so he takes off.

    August 3, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Yeah, because humans can hear a whimper from 20 miles away, right?
      It is quite obvious that you've never been deep into a forest before.
      The SMART thing is to get help. Indeed, that is lesson one in forest survival.
      Rather than blundering around, getting lost or overlooking her, thereby delaying her rescue.

      August 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. brucski

    Bugs aren't that bad...I would have eaten them by the end of day too...I get hungry quick so why not? Why let yourself be half-starved before you start nourishing your body... anyway ants are the best. Trust me I knoe.

    August 3, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chemist

      Actually, I prefer cicadas. Can't seem to keep the ants from biting my tongue...

      August 3, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Phil in Mill Creek, Wa

    Well, she survived the worst possible thing that could have happened in the Oregon wilderness: being thrown over and rock and getting cored by Sasquatch!!!

    August 3, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Earnest T Bass

    I'd eat that too!

    August 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jimmy

    Now this is falling!


    August 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bobby

    Hell!, All I can say is Darling, Honey! Will you Marry me?!?!? Think about it. this is a gal, likes rough country hiking (I'm so in love ;-)), falls & breaks a leg.. hey, it happens.. only people who _never_ rough country hike won't understand that, doesn't freak out.. stops the bleeding, eats available food & shelters with available materials.. I am so in love!

    Good Luck Pamela, and I suspect you make your own luck!


    August 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Marine5484

    She would make a good Marine lol. But seriously she did exactly what she needed to do to survive in that situation she found a water source a food source and sheltered herself with what she could use adaptability is the key to survival.

    August 3, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  15. robota

    glad the lady survived. sounds like quite an ordeal.

    change of subject ... has anyone else noticed the atrocious grammar coming from CNN writers? "A Oregon woman" as the beginning sentence just kills the story while you're trying to wrap your head around how someone can become a writer without basic grammar skills. using "a" or "an" depends on the sound that begins the next word - it makes the language flow off the tongue. "A Oregon woman" simply gets stuck in your throat even when you are reading and not speaking. let's try this: An Oregon woman ... ahhhh!

    August 3, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
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