Sunday, September 27, 2020
Sept. 27, 2020

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Hunter in coma after hanging from tree

He had been conscious but unable to free himself


LA GRANDE, Ore. (AP) — A 70-year-old Oregon hunter who was rescued after hanging upside-down for two days about 30 feet above ground was “hollering out” for help, but a father-and-son hunting duo who heard him spent an hour and a half searching for him because they weren’t looking up, a newspaper reported Friday.

Eddie Voelker of Prineville was hunting earlier this week in the remote, northeastern part of the state when he slipped off his tree stand and became entangled in his safety harness while hanging upside-down. Voelker remained conscious but could not free himself, The (La Grande) Observer reported.

Two days later, Steven and Joseph Royston of Stayton, Ore., were hunting a short distance away and they heard Voelker yelling for help.

He is now in critical condition at a hospital in Richland, where he is in a drug-induced coma, the East Oregonian reported, quoting family friend Jeanette Jacoby.

“We didn’t stumble on him — he was hollering out,” Steven Royston told the newspaper.

“We were hunting about a mile or so from his location and I heard someone yelling. I knew we needed to do something.”

Since Voelker’s yelling was echoing in the forest, Royston and his son drove around in their vehicle so they could cover more ground.

“My son honked the horn, and we knew we were getting closer to him (because) once he heard the horn he started yelling louder. He kept it up so we could find him,” he said.

The hunters at first had trouble because they were looking at ground level, he said.

“He said, ‘I’m up in the tree,'” Royston recalled. “Holy smokes. He was about 30 feet above and tangled in the ropes from his tree stand. His head was straight down, (and he had) no way to get himself down. We knew we needed to get him help right then.”

The Roystons drove about 8 miles to get cellphone reception and called 911.

On the way, they flagged down another car and told that person to go sit with Voelker.

They waited by the road and were able to lead a rescue helicopter to Voelker, but the helicopter crew didn’t have the right equipment to get him down, Royston said.