Searchers located two lost hunters in Elk County this week

An official with Elkland Search & Rescue reported Thursday that the organization has been busy this week conducting two extended search and rescue efforts for hunters lost in the woods in Elk County.
Matt Young, president and deputy chief of Elkland Search & Rescue, said individuals with 19 organizations were called out shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, the first day of hunting, in the Owls Nest area of Highland Township. Facebook entries regarding the incident said volunteers with the organization were “dispatched for an overdue 74-year-old male hunter in the Owls Nest area.”
“The last time the individual was seen by the hunting party was around 6 a.m.,” the post stated. “The last contact with the missing individual was around 11 a.m. via a broken two-way radio conversation.”
In addition to the Pennsylvania State Police in Ridgway and Elkland volunteers, others who responded to the scene included law enforcement officers with the Allegheny National Forest and the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the post stated. A state police helicopter was also dispatched, “and the McKean Ambulance service was on the scene not only for the missing individual,” but also for medical issues that might occur with searchers.
The post said shortly after 10 p.m., the Pine Creek SAR team arrived on the scene, followed by a state police helicopter that had direct contact with state police troopers on the ground. The account stated the helicopter crew contacted the ground crew of a “possible heat signature of a lone person leaning up against a tree” over a mile from the command post.
The post said the man was reached by rescuers after 30 minutes and when they saw he was wet and cold, covered him with their coats and used handwarmers and fires to comfort him. The man, who was unable to walk any distance, was carried through the woods and across creeks over the next three hours to an area where he was airlifted in a stokes basket by a medical helicopter.
“At the command post, the individual was transported to the Kane Ambulance, driven to the landing zone, prepared for the flight and transferred to the Lifeflight Helicopter for transport to the hospital,” the post stated. The entire rescue took 11 hours to complete.
Young said the second rescue occurred two days later on Wednesday and involved a 69-year-old male hunter in Jay Township.
“Elkland was dispatched by DCNR to rescue an injured elderly hunter, with a severe knee injury, from a remote area of the woods,” Young noted. “Elkland requested that Jay Township Fire Department be dispatched to assist with the rescue. The initial report was that the hunting party knew exactly where the individual was in the woods. As it turned out, that wasn’t the case.”
He said Elkland searchers gathered with the Jay Township Fire Department, a DCNR employee and several members from the hunting party. The group then went into the woods on foot with rescue equipment.
“After accessing a remote area, it was determined the individual would not be accessible from the area where we were,” Young explained. “At that time Elkland regrouped with DCNR and (the fire department) and reset into search mode. The teams were redirected to the patient’s location, from a different access point, where he was ultimately located.”
Young said the hunter was also placed in a stokes basket and carried approximately one mile to Elkland’s utility task vehicle, which transported him to a waiting ambulance.”
That rescue took approximately six hours to complete.
Young said volunteers likely saved the life of the hunter who was lost Monday.
“We were told by the hospital that he would not have survived the night,” Young said of the rescued man. “I’ve received numerous calls from family members already” who are grateful.
On a final note, Young said the Elkland volunteers, who all work at full-time jobs, helped with both incidents and are “beat and exhausted” from the rescues.
Despite this, he said the volunteers were “definitely” glad they could help the two men.