Locator beacon saved hiker who fell on Mt. Jefferson

Michael Smilensk couldn't move after falling more than 100 feet and breaking a leg

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A hiker recovering at Salem Hospital after he fell more than 100 feet on Mount Jefferson says his personal locator beacon saved him from spending days lost on the mountain.

A photo of Michael Smilensk that he took moments before he fell more than 100 feet on Mount Jefferson, July 19, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Michael Smilensk)
A photo of Michael Smilensk that he took moments before he fell more than 100 feet on Mount Jefferson, July 19, 2014. (Photo courtesy of Michael Smilensk)

Michael Smilensk, 56, of Detroit, Ore., was on the mountain Friday when he fell and couldn’t get up because of a broken leg and other injuries, so he activated his personal locator beacon.

The signal was picked up by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Panama City, Florida, and officials at the base relayed the information to Marion County Sheriff’s officials.

“Man, am I ever blessed! This has been a marvelous experience that could have been so horrible is turning out so beautiful for me,” said Smilensk.

He was rescued by helicopter and taken to Salem Hospital just after 2:30 a.m.

Smilensk said he bought his locator beacon from an REI store but never expected to use it. Now, he said he is glad he had it and encourages others to get one just in case.

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