Car over the side

January 18, 1987
Highway 243

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By Kevin Walker

Quite evening at home with the family, yes? Well, I am sure you know the answer. The phone rang at a little after six in the evening. At the other end of the line was Walt Walker with the news of the request for our services in evacuating a body out of an automobile over the edge of Highway 243. The body had been found by two hikers.

EVAC COMPLETE - After completing a simple raise up a steep snow covered slope along highway 243, RMRU members untie the litter from the hauling system so that the body could be turned over to the coroner. (photo by Jim Fairchild)When we arrived at the turnout along the highway, between Lawler Lodge and Allandale, we were met by Riverside County Deputy Coroner Ken Nugent and Officer R.D. Holton from the California Highway Patrol. They described to us that the wreckage was approximately 250 feet down from the highway lying upside down with the body mostly out of the vehicle. The person we were going to evacuate had been reported missing in July of 1986. Because of the dangerous terrain it had been wise to activate RMRU. Jim Fairchild and Walt set up a lowering system using a large tree as an anchor. Henry Negrete and I readied the litter and extrication equipment. Once ready, Henry and I, with our harnesses on and clipped onto the litter, began our descent to the wreckage. Jim managed the lowering rack. The snow was not icy but the slope was steep. Progress downward went fine. Our only obstacle was a fallen tree that we had to go underneath. We soon got to the car. Everything wen smoothly, considering what we were doing. Henry and I removed the snow that partially covered the body. We opened the body bag, placed the body into it, secured the bag into the plastic litter, radioed up that we were ready, and then were pulled up by Mary Bowman, Walt, Jim, Steve Bryant and Bud White. Once back up the highway, gear was sorted, and placed back in the van. Then we adjourned to a great dinner at Michelli’s Italian Restaurant in Idyllwild. Our thanks to Jade Michael’s and his staff for staying open past closing hours for us. With our stomachs full, we headed for home.