The Poulsbo Fire Department had to call in a specialized rescue team to save an elderly woman and her handicapped son, when their vehicle had flipped over after falling down a 40-foot embankment Monday night.
At around 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27, Firefighters found a Ford pickup truck lying on its roof and wedged between two logs and other debris on the beach near Canyon Road. Inside the vehicle were two occupants, an 88-year-old woman, and her 60-year-old handicapped son.
According to firefighters on the scene, the two occupants were alert and oriented but trapped and had sustained significant injuries.
Poulsbo Fire Lieutenant, Bruce Lowrie called for the Kitsap County Technical Rescue Team (KCTRT) to aid in the rescue due to lack of beach access and otherwise difficult terrain. KCTRT members include Navy Region Northwest, North Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Bainbridge Island Fire, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, and Bremerton Fire Department. KCTRT crew members are trained to a higher level than they receive at their individual departments and each department has access to KCTRT.
The crews from each of these agencies cut logs and trees away from the vehicle and used specialized equipment to stabilize it, as they pried the doors open to gain access to the occupants.
According to a press release from Poulsbo Fire, the elderly woman, who was the driver of the vehicle, had sustained possibly life-threatening injuries and was transported to Harrison Hospital. Her handicapped son was also transported to the hospital but was suspected to have only sustained minor injuries.
“This was a tricky rescue because you had a long, steep driveway down to the residence. There we found a small pad for parking, where only one rescue vehicle could fit. It’s from there that the woman had driven off the steep embankment and landed on the beach. From the top of the driveway, emergency responders and heavy equipment had to be shuttled down the long driveway. Then rescue equipment had to be carried down the long slippery stairs to the beach,” Incident Commander John Warnke said.
Warnke went on to say the victim’s family estimated that they had been down there for at least an hour. Stating the elderly woman’s daughter had come home to find the house empty and initially thought her mother to be at the store, until she saw her mother’s purse and went outside to investigate, saw the tracks heading over the embankment and heard shouting.