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. chillipepper

    she looks like shes been eating bugs her whole life.Her dads name is Renfield

    August 4, 2011 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. MNoBody

    "I will talk to media next week". no media exposure will eliminate lots of these survival calls, people would just walk home after couple days in wilderness...l

    August 4, 2011 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
    • CrazyPete

      Yes, I always walk around with my leg broken in two places.


      August 4, 2011 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Sure, she should have walked home on her *hands.* Why not? YOU could do that, right? That would save on rescue calls.

      Read for comprehension much?

      August 4, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • OldFashioned


      August 4, 2011 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
    • VVF09

      Does anyone get the impression her and her boyfriend aren't telling the whole story? Like maybe there was an argument?

      August 4, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Ugh!

      Not everything is a friggin conspiracy. Can ya just accept it for once already?

      August 4, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Gunsaregreat

      If you had any survival knowledge MNoBody, you would know that the best thing to do in a situation like this is to stay where you are. Given that she had a badly broken leg I'm sure she had no choice but to stay put. She obviously knew what she was doing by using moss as insulation and eating bugs that are high in protein. You really should try going out into the wilderness instead of sitting on a computer all day and actually learn somethin useful.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Victor

      MNoBody – I hope this exchange has taught you a valuable lesson: The real world is radically different from the World of Warcraft servers you inhabit for 12 hours each day.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • jojo

      I think I would have skipped the caterpillars...after all, she was only out there for a day. I'm pretty sure I could go without eating for a day. Also, after she survived the fall, why would she think she was going to die? Unless, she didn't think her boyfriend didn't like her much and would just head out to find some new tail. The new rule of thumb should be unless you are out in the wilderness for over 127 hours and have to cut off your own limb, you don't have the right to be a drama-queen.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • jojo

      ooops...I'm an idiot. She was out there much longer than I thought...I should finish the article before getting to the best parts- the comments.

      August 4, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Taino777

    Why does it always has to be about politics with Americans? and they wonder why they are not liked in other countries XD

    August 4, 2011 at 7:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Because some Americans are idiots.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
    • WaffeJJ

      And 99.99999% of non-Americans ARE idiots.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Nice

      Case and point. Why do you feel the need to puff out your chest and act sooooo superior to everyone else just because of where they were born? You have no control over that, they have no control over that. And what you don't realize is what an immature, arrogant fool you make yourself look like. Pride in one's country is fine, in fact, I am proud of America too. But to look down on everyone else, simply becasue of where they are from? What a petty, childish way to live one's life.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Dj Ahsan

    No matter what others say... I am impressed by the sruvival instincts of this girl !

    August 4, 2011 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. Allison

    I am so glad to hear she is alive. She's a strong admirable woman that did not give up.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  6. Guest

    Today its Impressive if someone survives in the woods for a few days,but 100 years ago that was what life was.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • CrazyPete

      100 years ago? In 1911? Well, for come people, but lots lived in the cities and would have no idea what to do. Anyway, what is your point?

      August 4, 2011 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      It's impressive if they survive after falling 50 feet and breaking a leg, yes.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • moronic

      Yeah, that's a pretty dumb thing to say on many levels. 100 years ago I wouldn't have had to read idiotic comments on from you either, but here we are in 2011!!!

      August 4, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. Adele McDaniel

    It is so nice to read a story with a genuine happy ending, especially one with a beautiful heroine.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      It's less nice when the subject is ugly?

      August 4, 2011 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Alegna

      Alyssa you are an ugly person.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • terrance


      August 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. steve

    did she chop her arm off? nope. sorry not as good as the last guy. no movie for you! (and I would of waited more than 3 days before i start eating the bugs)

    August 4, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
    • danilov

      I agree, she had plenty of water, I would have gone days before eating a caterpillar.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Big Game James

    Note to white people: Stop teasing death. He doesn't like to be cheated!!!LOL!!!

    August 4, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. One Day

    IIf I get lost lost, I hope I at least have a package of ketchup, to put on that caterpillar : \

    August 4, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. danilov

    I'm sorry, but an experienced hiker knows to carry the 10 essentials with them at all times. They also know not to veer from the trail unless they know where they are going. While she may have gone hiking in the past, following easy trails on day hikes hardly makes anyone experienced.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she is alive, but she was more lucky than anything.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Displeased

      They were looking for a place to camp. Hikers shouldn't camp right on the trail, therefore they had to veer off the trail.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  12. Swizzlestick

    There was plenty of food available but she was on Atkins.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. peter

    Good for her, glad she's ok...I'm sure it was scary!

    August 4, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. JOE

    Too bad she has a boyfriend. I'm in love. She's not only beautiful but she's inspiring. Good for you honey. You're my hero. But I must admit that your heroics still don't come close to the guy who got his arm stock between two rocks in the Utah mountains for several days a few years ago and then decided to cut his trapped arm off and then traveled several miles on foot while bleeding perfusely before collapsing and eventually being rescued by helicopter. I saw the story on NBC's Tom brokov show. Nevertheless, you're both inspiring.

    August 4, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. Holly


    Oh, CNN. She's AN Oregon woman, not A Oregon woman. You are supposed to put "an" in front of words starting with a vowel.

    August 4, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Victor

      Holly, since you're a member of the grammar Gestapo, why do some people say "an" before H words, particularly in the UK? I was watching Howling V the other day, and Count Istvan (played by UK actor Phil Davis) said in one scene: "It is AN hereditary birthmark."

      I've also heard some say "an historical," "an heroic", etc. yet I've never understood why.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Displeased

      Victor, if a word starts with a consonant that sounds like a vowel, then you still use "an" before the word.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Jimbot

      Yep, the writer sure was a idiot!!! 😉

      September 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
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