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Middle-of-the-night rescue for woman stuck in Cazadero-area canyon

In a middle-of-the-night rescue that took place 1,800-feet down a rugged canyon, North Coast volunteer firefighters and others early Tuesday carried and pulled an injured Cazadero woman to safety.

With light only from headlamps and a few flashlights, they used three ropes, 1,200- to 1,800-feet-long tied to a litter holding the 31-year-old hiker. Six at a time carried the litter and others pulled the ropes to get her up the slippery, unstable hillside, through a heavily forested area and dense brush to a command center set up on Bohan Dillon Road.

"It was one of the most complicated rescues ... in the middle of the night, very treacherous terrain. A couple of our guys fell," said Timber Cove Fire Chief Michael Singer, who helped with the effort.

The rescuers included about a dozen volunteer firefighters from Fort Ross, six from Timber Cove and four Cazadero volunteers as well as a Russian River fire ambulance crew and a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy. Fort Ross Fire Chief Steve Ginesi ran the rescue.

"It was just a very professional and well-orchestrated rescue. Everyone cooperated very well," Singer said.

They'd responded to a 10:15 p.m. call for help from friends of the woman, who'd apparently just moved to the Cazadero area.

She'd gone for a hike Monday afternoon off of remote Bohan Dillan Road, down a ravine leading to the south fork of the Gualala River, said Singer. Come dusk she decided to take a steep shortcut, hoping to get home sooner, she later told the firefighters who saved her.

But she fell, apparently injuring her hip, Singer said.

The Sonoma County sheriff's helicopter wasn't in service Monday and a REACH helicopter was requested from Concord, equipped with night-vision capabilities. But the fog was too thick and the helicopter was unable to help, Singer said.

Searchers had to guess where she might be and walked about a 1-mile stretch of the roadway. "We kept looking and yelling from the road and one of the rescuers went down quite a way and did hear her," Singer said.


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