BERLIN – An American hiker stranded in the Bavarian Alps for nearly three days was rescued after using her sports bra as a signal, police in southern Germany said Monday.
Berchtesgaden police officer Lorenz Rasp said that he helped lift 24-year-old Jessica Bruinsma of Colorado to safety by helicopter on Thursday after she attracted the attention of lumberjacks by attaching her sports bra to a cable used to move timber down the mountain.
"She's a very smart girl, and she acted very resourcefully," said Rasp. "She kept her shirt and jacket for warmth, but thought the sports bra could work as a signal."
An Alpine rescue team, including five helicopters and 80 emergency workers, had been searching for Bruinsma since she went missing June 16 after losing her way in bad weather while hiking with a friend near the Austrian border.
She fell 16.4 feet to a rocky overhang, where she spent the next 70 hours on the narrow ledge, sustained by water that she found by breaking into a supply box on the ledge.
She badly bruised a leg and dislocated a shoulder in the fall, and the cliff was too isolated for her to climb free, Rasp said.
Rasp said the cable was only within reach because the timber transport system was out of service. When a repairman restored the line on Thursday, the cable car started moving up the mountain and Bruinsma's bra reached the worker at the base. He knew of the missing hiker and immediately called police.
Rasp said his team followed the cable line up the cliff side in a helicopter and found Bruinsma standing on the ledge, waving with her good arm. After circling once, they lowered a winch to Bruinsma and lifted her aboard.
"She did so well because she is in very good shape," Rasp said. "She has been training for a marathon — her goal is to finish in 3 hours and 10 minutes."
Bruinsma told Rasp that she has scrapped plans to stay in Berchtesgaden to learn German and plans to return home to Colorado Springs with her parents. He said she still plans to run the marathon, if she recovers in time to keep training.