Missing hiker “walks out” to rescuers on Chilco Mt.
Kootenai County Sheriff deputies say a female hiker, missing for 12 hours on Chilco Mountain, was found by rescuers after losing contact with 911 dispatchers when her cell phone died.
27-year-old Alisa Franck was reported missing Saturday evening around 7:30 following a hiking trip with her boyfriend, 42-year-old David Dodd of Spirit Lake. Franck called authorities when she became lost on the mountain and failed to meet up with Dodd at an arranged meeting place.
Franck tried to relay to deputies where she was by calling 911 on her cell phone, but after several phone calls rescuers were still unsure as to just where on the mountain she was. To make things worse, Franck’s cell phone battery died, cutting off communication between her and dispatchers.
Before her battery died, dispatchers were able to gather from the calls that Franck was dressed for the cold weather, but had limited survival gear with her.
Volunteer search and rescue members joined deputies from Kootenai County at the Chilco Mountain trail head to help search for Franck. Stormy conditions, coupled with the 3″ – 5″ of snow already on the ground made search efforts difficult.
A search of the Chilco Mountain trail and the forest on the west side of the mountain turned up no signs of Franck, as rescuers searched through the snow storm into early Sunday morning.
At about 1:00 a.m. Sunday, the storm let up allowing a helicopter from Fairchild Air Force Base to join in the search. The crew in the helicopter cris-crossed the search area for four hours, but were unable to find Franck.
As rescue efforts heightened, officers from the U.S. Forest Service and deputies from Bonner County joined the joint search effort. Then, at about 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning as a second wave of searchers prepared to depart the command post, rescuers found Franck walking on a road leading to the Bunco trail head.
Franck told rescuers that she was “cold”, but otherwise looked to be in good health. Rescuers took her to the command post to warm up and to get something to eat.
The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department says hikers in the back country should be prepared by packing survival gear for all weather conditions.