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. JahManRastafari

    LOL is it just me or is 3 days a little too soon to be resorting to caterpillars......kill a damn squirrel woman.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Rex Remes

      Haha ... I agree

      August 4, 2011 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bribarian

    nothing will ever top the guy who sawed off his own arm. Manliness.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jim

    It was 2 1/2 days and she was next to a creek. Is this really a story of survival? You don't even have to eat to stay alive for that amount of time. sheesh

    August 4, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • writerink

      She fell 50 feet-the equivalent of a 5-story building, and survived. I'd call that a survival story for sure. People also die of exposure; she was smart enough to coverup with moss when it got cold, and to get whatever nourishnment she could, so there are lessons to be learned here for other hikers in distress.

      August 4, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      Jim obviously lives a pretty sheltered life. Must consist of just X-Box, an iPhone, and Beer.

      August 4, 2011 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
    • henry

      3 days wont kill you i have gone 2-3 weeks without food no heat in dead winter the only thing i didnt have was a broken leg you can survive stop crying already

      August 4, 2011 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
    • rds905

      Agreed....wahh....get over it.

      August 4, 2011 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Without water purification tablets and without knowing if the water was potable, she could have died from exposure the first night. It seems you aren't aware of how dangerous it is to spend a single night outdoors. It sounds like she could have bled to death from her wound or frozen without the moss for warmth. Giardia water parasites can kill a person in poor condition in a few days.

      It's good that she knew her survival basics.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Marie....I survived once for 5 days without my Xbox or beer so i resent that comment. Anyway, her wounds were not life threatening and it wasn't that cold. Every hiker knows to use water tablets. I just don't see the miracle survival story here. As for surviving the 5 story fall...yes, that is something BUT that wasn't something she controlled.

      August 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rex Remes

    She .... tied her underwear to stop bleeding on a deep cut on her knee. So, was she naked when they found her?

    This story keeps getting better and better!

    August 4, 2011 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr.Tong

      Rex, you are one screwed up fellow.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Bo S. Ton

      Funny guy there – do you think she was hiking in her panties? I don't think so. My guess is that she was wearing shorts or long pants on top of it.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Giorgos Zachos

    Hey, Rex, when a woman is in need, leg broken in two places and under extreme stress and/or need, the last thing you look is whether she is naked or not.

    But what am i talking about here, you probably never helped anyone in your life, ever. How could you possibly know.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
    • forwardbias

      You must be hero who is here to save the cheerleader, save the world..

      August 4, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. Peter

    "A Oregon woman"? Shouldn't that be "An Oregon Woman"???

    August 4, 2011 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
    • jen

      No, the article writer was right. You are wrong.

      August 4, 2011 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. FatNHappy

    Just think of it as a young butterfly and it goes down better.

    What people can die of much sooner than thirst or hunger in the mountains is hypothermia. A box of matches and some downed wood provide both warmth and a nice big plume of smoke for the helos. In the rather unreal event you forgot the matches you can make a big SOS in the snow or sand by dragging your broken leg, arranging rocks, whatever. If your vision is poor you might try making a fire with those eyeglasses. I don't know anybody who has made a fire with two sticks.

    In the desert exposure and thirst can both kill you, but there are many cactii having a large percentage of water. There are also lots of snakes and lizards, both excellent eating.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bo S. Ton

    "Surviving" on caterpillars... A human being can be without food for up to a month and still survive. The creekwater was essential though. One only lasts a couple of days or so without liquid.

    August 4, 2011 at 3:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Babar

      Totally agree. CNN's "survived on bugs" was blatantly creative journalism.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. SteroidJunkie

    Ah yes, another experienced hiker who is so experienced they walk right off a cliff...

    August 4, 2011 at 4:41 am | Report abuse |
    • henry

      i love hearing that their experienced and then AHHHH IM FALLING WHAM.

      August 4, 2011 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  10. PedoGuy

    Send her the bill.

    August 4, 2011 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. shane

    am I the only one who noticed it is her mug shot posted? You can see the sheriff office's stamp on the side and I doubt that was taken after the incident. I wonder what she was arrested for, regardless I hope for a well recovery

    August 4, 2011 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
    • henry

      thats the search n rescue shot

      August 4, 2011 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. Austin Powers

    That's a man, baby!

    August 4, 2011 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
  13. henry

    She could have been taken by an agressive raping gorilla

    August 4, 2011 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
  14. Andreas Moser

    Tough chick!

    August 4, 2011 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. big John

    Pam 28 looks more like paul 48.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
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