A woman who was missing for three nights in an Oregon forest after becoming separated from her boyfriend and tumbling off a cliff was found alive and rescued Tuesday after subsisting on berries and bugs to survive.
Pamela Salant of Portland says she ate berries, drank from a creek and also tried to scoot to safety on her bottom because she couldn’t walk.
Hood River County sheriff's Detective Matt English says the 28-year-old Portland was in serious condition with a possible broken left leg after her rescue from Mount Hood National Forest.
"Everyone is just relieved," Aric Essig, Pamela's boyfriend, told Fox 12 "I'm really proud of her."
An Oregon Army Guard helicopter crew spotted Salant sitting on a rock near a creek Tuesday afternoon, and returned to Salem to get a chopper equipped for hoisting her out of the forest. A UH-60 Blackhawk chopper made the actual rescue, carrying Salant to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.
She suffered injuries to her back, leg, and knee, but is expected to be fine, Essig said.
The Oregonian reported that Salant got lost Saturday when she and Essig dropped their gear near Bear Lake and went looking for a camping spot. After her fall, Salant began following a creek, trying to reach the Columbia River and get help, Hood River Country Sheriff’s Detective Matt English said. She ended up in a steep drainage, about a mile and a half from the lake.
"She had fallen off a cliff, a pretty high cliff," Essig described. "She knew she had to get to water, so she scooted her way down this steep hill and found water and drank from a stream."
Salant survived the four days and three nights wearing only shorts and a tank top.
"At night she was really cold, so she covered herself with moss," Essig told Fox 12. "She ate berries and ate a caterpillar and a slug, anything she could do to survive."
More than 25 people from the Hood River County Sheriff's Office, plus multiple other agencies including the National Guard and U.S. Forest Service police, searched the rugged and densely wooded terrain.
Salant heard the helicopters and made her way to an open area, so she could be spotted, Essig said.
He says her adrenaline and will to survive helped save her.
"She thought she was going to die, so she knew she had to make it," Essig told Fox 12. "She said she was surprisingly confident and not scared for a lot of it; she knew she had to do it."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.