Geocaching can lead you in many directions, and is always an adventure. You never know what you’ll find.
On Sunday, October 30th 2016, Tim Turner (Blue Meanies), Trevor Bland (Trevor and Kate), Leland Smith (swiss cheese brain), and Derek Fisher (CacheDFish), left their hotel at 8 AM to start a power trail near Benton, Washington, USA. A Power Trail is a set of consecutive caches along a route that allows cachers to find a large number of caches in a small amount of time and distance. They are usually placed right at or just over the 528 feet limitation from the previous and next cache. The difficulty and terrain levels are kept low to increase the ease of finding the containers.
What began as a routine weekend geocaching outing became an unforgettable high-stakes rescue.
It was a foggier than usual that morning. Visibility was limited to 50 feet in any direction. However, the team of cachers were not deterred away from their goal of hunting down the high elevation power trail. After signing their last log the fog broke and the team proceeded back home. This is when they saw something unusual.
“In one of the clear spots (in the fog), our driver, Tim, saw a wrecked car about 200 feet down a ravine. He pulled over and we all got out to look at it,” Bland said.
The car, a blue Ford Escape, was surrounded by paper and other debris, all too fresh and clean looking to be old. They realized the accident was recent. As the geocachers neared, they noticed dents and other damage on the sides and roof of the car—it had rolled down the cliff.
Approaching the vehicle the group hoped the car was empty, but prepared for the worst. They were elated that no one was in the front seat. Then a breeze came by and blew one of the drooping side-airbags enough for Turner to see someone’s leg and said, “Someone’s in there!”
The group was shocked. Bland looked inside and saw the woman’s arm move. He asked if she was okay. The woman said she was in a lot of pain, but could not articulate her words well. Leland took down the coordinates of where she was, and ran up to meet with Derek Fisher on top of the ravine to find cell phone coverage.
To calm the woman and keep her from moving, Leland, Turner, and Fisher kept a conversation with her and provided water until help arrived. She’d been stuck in the car for 14 hours before being found, and though the woman had no life-threatening injuries she was lifted via helicopter to the hospital.
The group’s immediate response and timing could not have been better. The doctors told the family that, had the woman been left alone in the ravine for a couple more hours, she might not have survived.
“It’s really hard to just go about your day and geocache after witnessing something like that,” Bland said. “We tried by staying in the immediate area keeping an eye on the flashing lights up on the hill, and an ear out for the helicopter, but none of us was really into playing our game. Not after witnessing someone’s life on the line. We needed to process and reset ourselves. So we went to lunch at a great Mexican restaurant that Tim knew. We ate, talked about what we had just witnessed and experienced, watched a little bit of a football game, and gave ourselves time to reboot and re-energize. We then proceeded to cache our way back home to Spokane.”
In case you find yourself in a similar situation here is some advice from the cachers:
Turner: “Assume that anything is possible and always be ready and willing to offer help. Being curious can save lives.”
Leland: “Always be prepared! Have supplies on-hand whenever you go out; First-aid kit, blankets, water or any survival gear. You never know what kind of situation is right around the next corner. Lend a helping hand if you are not involved.”
Bland: “Do the right thing. Stay safe, but do the right thing.”
Fisher: “Don’t second-guess yourself; your gut instinct is to check out the situation. You may find nothing, but you might change someone’s life.”
Thankfully, the woman is in better condition and is recovering from the incident. Those who were involved handled the situation with poise, and without missing a beat. In an interview, the geocachers were asked how it felt to be a part of saving someone and Turner summed it up best:
“It feels very rewarding. Lives are so much more important than hobbies, but this hobby helped save a life.”