Inside the rescue of Heather Mounce

Heather Mounce was found alive near the Sea Lion Caves in Florence

Heather Mounce in an undated photo posted on a Facebook page, August 17, 2017
Heather Mounce in an undated photo posted on a Facebook page, August 17, 2017

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Karen Sparks was planning a vigil for Friday night for her missing cousin, Heather Mounce, when she got a text from another cousin.

The text said Heather was found alive.

Sparks, who lives in Idaho, said she was at Fred Meyer printing more flyers for the search. “I had to take a deep breath and sit down at Fred Meyer and all the workers all came over to assist me. They were so happy. I was happy,” she told KMVT TV in Twin Falls, Idaho. “Terrible news turned into a miracle.”

Mounce, 37, was last seen Saturday morning. She was found Wednesday near the Sea Lion Caves in Florence. Authorities said her determined husband, Denton Davision, found her near where her car was found earlier.

‘She’s alive! She’s alive!’

In the 911 call, Davison told the dispatcher he could see his wife.

“I am on the rocky beach, I think it’s Cox Rock, she’s up in the bushes, she’s waving at me,” he said. “She’s alive she’s alive, she’s on that hillside.”

The dispatcher asked again for a location and Davison said, “Highway 101, Cox Rock area, she’s waving at me from the bushes, 100-150 feet up the cliff from the ocean. I don’t think I can get to her.”

While Davison remains on the line, the 911 operator called the rescue units — including a rope unit to rappel down and the Coast Guard.

Listen to the entire 911 call here:

She was found about 180 feet down the side of a cliff, according to Lt. Alex Webber, the pilot for the Coast Guard crew that rescued her.

Coast Guard video of the rescue of Heather Mounce:

Webber said they looked around and spotted her, then hovered about 250 feet above the water. The crew lowered rescue swimmer Petty Officer 3rd Class Tyler Stacey about 180 feet, to the spot where Mounce was “clinging on to some bushes on the cliff,” Webber said.

Stacey said it was hard to see her.

Heather Mounce in an undated photo (Courtesy photo)

“She was covered by some pretty big bushes she had landed on. I don’t know if she had fallen or how she got into the position she did,” Stacey said. “But it appeared she had gotten herself into a situation where she was basically being suspended by a big bush and it was on a pretty sheer surface.”

She looked grateful the Coast Guard found her, he said.

“She was very scared, but when I got up to her she definitely wanted to get out of there.”

The windy conditions made it a bit more of a challenge to get her connected for the rescue. She lost her balance and fell onto him, he said, “and I basically caught her and was able to grab onto her long enough to where I could fly her other arm through the device and secure her.”

Webber said, “He put his rescue strap around her, at which point the flight mechanic who was operating the hoist cable vectored us back off the cliff and then we reeled her up.”

Mounce seemed “a little bit out of it,” which Stacey believed was because she was missing for 4 days without food or water. He said she wasn’t wearing shoes, her feet were swollen and she was scraped up.

Webber said the fire department made a landing spot on Hwy 101, where they landed and helped Mounce get to a waiting ambulance.

“She was in stable condition once dropped off,” Webber said.

Karen Sparks said she was amazed at the support from around the country they received in the days they searched for Mounce. She just wants to hug and kiss Mounce.

“Her mother and her children, at least they have her back,” Sparks said. “I want to say thank you to all the first responders and the Coast Guard and police and Oregon State Police.”

“We can only go forward from here and we pray that she heals and recovers quickly and we can’t wait to get that hug,” Sparks said.

In a statement on Facebook, Denton Davison said:

It is hard to put into words the elation we feel that Heather was found alive and well yesterday. It is nothing short of a miracle. We are beyond happy that she is safe and recovering. We would like to thank everyone for the time and effort put into the official Facebook page as well as all the flyers that were distributed by family, friends, and strangers. The public support has been overwhelming. Thank… you to the Coast Guard team who made the amazing rescue. Finally a big thank you to the Dallas Police Department for working with us so closely during this time.

We will not be granting any interviews at this time as our focus will be on Heathers recovery. Please continue to pray for her and our family.

God bless.

Denton Davison and his wife, Heather Mounce, in an undated photo posted on a Facebook page, August 17, 2017
Denton Davison and his wife, Heather Mounce, in an undated photo posted on a Facebook page, August 17, 2017

KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho contributed to this report and granted permission to KOIN for this story.