A 44-year-old Vancouver woman was rescued on Mount St. Helens Sunday afternoon after her snowmobile rolled onto her and fractured her right leg. A new cellular tower played a key role in her rescue.
After being brought down from a steep slope, Cheryl Carter was flown to Southwest Washington Medical Center by Life Flight helicopter. She was in satisfactory condition and headed to surgery at 5 p.m. Sunday.
Tom McDowell of North Country EMS and the Volcano Rescue Team of Yacolt said the mishap occurred about 11 a.m. He said Carter was in a group of seven people.
The accident happened in the Lahar area on the southeast side of Mount St. Helens.
He said 12 members of the rescue team used five snowmobiles and a tracked quad vehicle to reach the woman. She was on a 45-degree slope, McDowell said.
The rescuers were able to get the woman to a flat area where Life Flight could land.
McDowell lauded Skamania County sheriff’s Deputy George Barker for coordinating the rescue.
He also credited U.S. Cellular because the company installed a solar-powered cellular site in the south Mount St. Helens area about three weeks ago.
Because of that tower, the 911 call from the Lahar area was received by the sheriff’s office in Stevenson, McDowell said.
"We’ve never had that before," McDowell said. "We’ve never had any coverage."
He said the site cost about $800,000 to install.
"It’s a new design. It’s an experimental site with a generator backup," McDowell added. "We’re really pleased."
"It’s just another example that the resources we have out there take care of the recreating public," said Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox.
He said Skamania County "kicked in $100,000 because we know the importance of the site."
He said other cellular companies were not interested, but U.S. Cellular was.
"If that site saves one life, it’s worth all the money," Cox said. "We’re just ecstatic."