St. Helens hiker flown off Loowit Trail

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A Florida man was flown off Mount St. Helens Friday afternoon after his knees gave out while hiking the Loowit Trail.

He was hiking the Loowit Trail around Mount St. Helens with three other people. They were about one-third of the way around the 28.6-mile trail on the northwest side of the mountain when his knees gave out, said North Country EMS Chief Ben Peeler.

The group called for help around 1 p.m., but because of poor cellphone service it was originally reported that someone fell down the mountain, suffering a head injury. North Country EMS mobilized the Volcano Rescue Team and sent out their contract helicopter.

The climbing group used a smoke signal to help guide the helicopter, which was able to land near the man, Peeler said. The crew discovered that “his knees were just done.” So, they showed him the helicopter bill, he agreed to pay it, and they flew him to his car at the Climber’s Bivouac parking lot at 3 p.m. The names of those involved were not released. Peeler said they were prepared climbers.

“It was very smooth and quick and efficient,” Peeler said. “If it had been bad weather, this event would have been going on until tomorrow.”

The rest of the climbing group is finishing the trail around the mountain, which takes most people two to three days to complete.

The man said he plans to drive around to the other side to meet them.