Hunter hospitalized after hanging for two days from tree
A Prineville man who was hunting in Ukiah is in a drug-induced coma, according to multiple media reports, after hanging from a tree stand for two days.
On Tuesday, Aug. 28, members of the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office Patrol Division and Search and Rescue Team responded to a hunting camp southeast of Ukiah for a report of a hunter who became entangled in his safety harness.
The man, later identified as 70-year-old Eddie Voelker, was suspended upside down from a tree stand more than 30 feet in the air. When deputies arrived, he said he had been stuck there for two days before being found by another hunter.
With assistance from the Union County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Forest Service, and medics from La Grande and Pendleton, and Life Flight, the man was safely removed from his harness by use of an Oregon Trail Electric Co-op (OTEC) bucket truck.
Due to being tangled in his safety harness, which cuts off regular blood flow, the man suffered compartment syndrome, The Observer newspaper in La Grande reported.
According to LGFD Capt. Robert Tibbetts, compartment syndrome is the release of blood flow after a prolonged period of time, which will negatively impact the pH levels in the body, which then turns life threatening.
Tibbetts said in this incident, the rescuers were prepared for compartment syndrome to set in, so an Oregon Trail Electric Co-Op boom truck bucket was used to transfer the patient into once it did.
Voelker was transported by air ambulance to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland, Washington, and, according to hospital staff, he was still in critical condition Friday.
Jeanette Jacoby, a family friend of Voelker's, told the East Oregonian via email that he is now in a drug-induced coma, and doctors did a procedure on him on Wednesday to relieve pressure on his brain. She said he was breathing on his own for a while, but on Thursday, doctors put him back on a ventilator.
Jacoby said after Voelker's rescue, a person performed CPR on him. She said he was hunting alone but had his dogs on the trip, and they were at the campsite. His family retrieved the dogs and some of his hunting equipment from the site the day after he was found.