Friday evening, 10/13/23, at 10 pm, Elkland Search and Rescue and Elk Company 5 were requested by the Pa State Police Ridgway Barracks to meet them in the Thunder Mountain Equestrian Trails for a missing rider and horse.
The rider was a 55-year-old female last seen around 2:30 pm Friday at the Gas Line Camping Area. Due to the remote location of the area, most emergency responders arrived on the scene around 11:30pm.
Additional dispatched emergency responders on scene included Pa State Police, Bennetts Valley Ambulance, Pa Game Commission and Aerialjimpa from Commodore Pa. We also had a few concerned hunters that were in the area hunting earlier in the day that may have heard her and offered to return to that area with emergency responders.
A Unified Command was established and reflex search tasks were assigned to the emergency responders. Equestrian Trails were being checked by atvs and utvs, mantrackers were returning with the hunters to look for fresh horse tracks hoping to establish a direction of travel and mobile teams were checking nearby driveable roads. Drone tasks were also being planned due to the remote vast area and helicopters were unavailable to fly due to the incoming weather.
Around 12:45am, just as additional emergency resources were going to be requested, the individual and horse were located quite a few miles away from the camping area, by one of the mobile search teams. The rider and horse stopped traveling once they were at an intersection of a trail and a better maintained road to wait for safer travels at daylight.
Emergency medical responders arrived on scene to check on the riders well being. The horse was also attended to and checked by another rider. Once medically released, the rider was transported back to the Command Post via a vehicle. A friend and horse rider of the missing person, rode the horse back to the Command Post escorted by emergency responders for safety reasons and traveling at night.
The rider was returned to the Command Post around 1:20am. The horse and fresh rider were returning to the Command Post around 3:30am just as the rains started to fall. All Elkland members and equipment were back in the station and put away for the next dispatch by 5:00am.
Elkland Search and Rescue asks that everyone enjoying the outdoors have a minimum survival pack of equipment with them. You can never tell when something unplanned will happen and those supplies will be needed. More on this to follow within a day or so as we were planning on releasing this information next week as a refresher anyway.
Of course everything that transpired above, wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of the Elk County Office of Emergency Services Dispatchers and additional dispatchers working the other State Dispatching Offices to keep everyone connected via radio and making phone calls to make sure the proper responders and equipment are coming to the scene.
Lastly, Our Elk County Community! I know I say this Repeatedly, but to look at the equipment and people that are on scene for a situation like this is just so humbling for us! There are so many organizations and people that financially keep Elkland SAR afloat! , For That We say THANK YOU! We only can exist from Your Support!
Stay Safe and Enjoy the Outdoors,
Chief of Elkland SAR