A college student was trapped Thursday when he fell several hundred feet while climbing an Oregon mountain.
Joel Tranby was climbing North Sister in the Cascade Mountains with his girlfriend Monday afternoon when he fell about 300 to 500 feet and was seriously injured.
Authorities said Tranby’s girlfriend was able to use her phone to call for help, but could not see where Tranby had landed.
“Unfortunately, he stopped verbally responding before searchers arrived,” Lane County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tom Spaldrich told The Associated Press.
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According to the sheriff, search and rescue officials used drone video to locate the 21-year-old’s body and were able to see it firsthand from a helicopter Thursday morning.
The sheriff’s office said the loose, steep and rocky terrain has made it impossible to reach Tranby on foot, and police are consulting with expert climbers to determine whether the recovery mission can be conducted safely.
Rescue efforts included an Oregon National Guard Blackhawk helicopter, mountain rescue teams, a high-resolution camera and a small drone.
“We are saddened by this loss of life and extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” the sheriff’s office said.
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North Sister stands at more than 10,000 feet and is known to be a difficult climb due to loose volcanic rock and a lack of places to anchor ropes, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
April Tranby, Tranby’s mother, said on Facebook Thursday, “There are so many stories to tell that confirm how God led them to gather the right people and go and see the right place. Helicopter viewers saw Joel and confirmed that he is no longer with us. Joel has gone to be with the Lord.” She had been posting updates on social media since Monday.
“Please pray. Joel and his girlfriend, Fiona, went climbing the North Sister today. Around noon, he fell about 300 feet, then another unknown distance at 2 p.m. He was able to talk after the first fall, but was very badly injured. We have had no contact with him since. [the] Second fall,” he said.
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Tranby, whose Facebook says he was a student at Oregon State University, loved the outdoors and was a big part of the community in Bend, helping coach his former high school’s Nordic ski team, according to KTVZ-TV. Her parents said they were “devastated by the loss,” the station said.
“Joel was doing something he loved, with the person he loved, and we know he enjoyed it,” April and David Tranby said in a statement shared with KTVZ-TV.