Emergency rescue team saves solo backpacker after concerned family member stops receiving communication 

CHP H20 helicopter was used as a part of the search.
Provided/Tahoe Search and Rescue

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.— At approximately 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 10, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office received an emergency call regarding a solo backpacker near Tamarack Lake in Desolation Wilderness. 

A concerned family member called dispatch to report that she was in constant communication with the solo male backpacker during his trek, when there was an abrupt end to communication on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 9. 

The family member was able to give his last known GPS coordinates, reporting that the tracker hadn’t moved since the night before and she was not able to get in contact with him. The solo backpacker was also revealed to have a pre-existing medical condition. 

The information was given to the El Dorado Search and Rescue coordinator, who immediately launched a team into Desolation Wilderness to find the backpacker. 

According to the Tahoe Search and Rescue team Facebook page, two ground team members of the El Dorado Search and Rescue Tahoe Team were deployed, arriving at the last known GPS coordinates to find the solo backpacker in medical distress. The ground team members were able to relay that information and a full-medical rescue was implemented. 

California Highway Patrol Helicopter H20, Lake Valley Fire firefighters, Lake Tahoe Joint Powers paramedics, and Cal Fire personnel were requested and responded. Echo Calet owner and personnel were also apart of the rescue mission by shuttling emergency personnel via water taxi across Echo Lakes to the closest trailhead. 

The subject was ultimately airlifted out of Desolation Wilderness by CHP H20 and brought to an awaiting ambulance at a landing zone near Echo Summit at Highway 50. 

According to the search and rescue team, the initial call from the family member into dispatch knowing the backpacker’s communication cadence, travel plan, and sensing something was wrong, along with a quick response from the search and rescue ground team and the secondary response form air and emergency medical personnel was what made this a true live-saving mission. 

For those who plan to go backpacking, when traveling in the backcountry, always have a plan and share that plan with responsible people who can monitor your trip. This backpacker’s plan saved his life. 

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