A Pollock Pines man who fell down an embankment while hiking in the area, then became stranded on a rock in the American River, was rescued and flown to safety by a California Highway Patrol helicopter Wednesday morning.
Robert Douglas, 47, was suffering from minor hypothermia, scrapes and bruises to both legs, and an injury to his ankle when he was rescued about 11:30 a.m., said Deputy James Morgan of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue division.
Morgan said Douglas told rescuers that he had started hiking about noon Tuesday near the Forebay Road pike area. During the hike, he slipped and fell down a steep embankment. Unable to climb back up the embankment, he spent the night in a makeshift dirt cave.
At daybreak, he spotted power lines leading to a Sacramento Municipal Utility District power plant and began following them. He saw a power plant on the other side the river and decided to swim across, but he became tired and cold, and took refuge on a rock in the middle of the river. He then spotted employees of the El Dorado Irrigation District, which also has a power plant in the area, and began yelling for help.
Mary Lynn Carlton, EID spokeswoman, said the employees saw Douglas about 500 yards from the EID powerhouse, on the south side of the river. She said they waded into the river but determined the water between the shore and the rock was too deep for them to reach him. They called 911 and continued to communicate with Douglas until rescue crews arrived.
Morgan said about 20 rescue personnel responded, including members of the sheriff’s dive team and swift water rescue team, which were prepared to attempt a water rescue if the CHP helicopter had been unable to reach Douglas. Morgan said the air rescue was deemed the safest option.
Douglas was taken to Marshall Hospital in Placerville and was reported in stable condition, according to sheriff’s officials.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.