Man Missing for 5 Days Found Alive in Vehicle at Bottom of Ravine: 'Pretty Remarkable'
"They were expecting a crime scene, expecting the worst," a fire and rescue official tells PEOPLE
A Washington man who’d been missing for five days was miraculously rescued after being found alive in his truck at the bottom of a ravine.
On Sunday morning, bystanders spotted "tire tracks leaving" a roadway in Cowlitz County as well as a "small green truck at the bottom" of a ravine, according to a press release from Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue that was obtained by PEOPLE.
After a passerby spotted the downed vehicle and called to report it as a possible accident, about 19 firefighters responded to the scene, Bryan Ditterick, a Lieutenant and PIO for the fire and rescue agency, tells PEOPLE.
The injured man’s truck had left the roadway and traveled about 150 feet down a “steep, heavily wooded ravine” before coming to rest on its wheels, authorities said in the news release.
"They were expecting a crime scene, expecting the worst," adds Ditterick
Related: Woman Missing for 5 Days Found Alive in Wrecked Car After Vanishing During Trip to Post Office
Officials then used saws to cut through “chest-height” brush and trees to access the truck and clear a path for rescue.
"Firefighters hiked down the hill through waist deep brush expecting the worst, but found the driver of the truck was still alive but severely injured and ill," authorities wrote in the press release.
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"One of our medics with some binoculars did see some movement. I think they saw the patient moving his arm," Ditterick says of the man, identified as a a 56-year-old from Cowlitz County.
"Then it turned into a more of a rescue type mode," Ditterick adds.
After reaching the car, the battalion chief helped coordinate a rope rescue with the Longview Fire Department.
“They set up a plan to safely get down to the patient, assess how he's doing, his injuries, and then package him in a stokes basket… then utilize the rope rescue team and some of their techniques to get the patient up safely without injuring him anymore,” Ditterick explains.
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The injured man, who was still conscious upon rescue, was flown by a life-flight helicopter for treatment at a trauma center in Vancouver, Wash. His current status is unclear.
"[The rescue] worked out beautifully," Ditterick says. "The whole incident from dispatch to closing the call took about an hour, which is pretty remarkable."
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