Woman miraclously survives falling 300 plus feet from Mount St. Helens

(ABC NEWS)- A woman survived the nearly impossible after falling down hundreds of feet while climbing on Mount St. Helens.

Brittany Fintel, 32, was hiking when she fell around 300 to 500 feet from the monitor ridge climbing route on Mount St. Helens after losing her footing on snow and ice. She planned to tour the Washington state 8,663-foot volcano around noon but slipped on her way up Saturday morning.


The Omaha, Nebraska, native and Navy veteran said she really thought she was dead the moment she slipped.

“The first thing that hit the boulder was my hip,” Fintel told ABC Affiliate KATU. “Then I flipped over that and hit my head, and then kept literally rolling down until I naturally stopped. I didn’t have [the] proper equipment for the ice — didn’t have an ice pick to do self-arrest.”

Other hikers witnessed her fall when a nurse and search and rescue volunteer tried to get to her.

Fintel’s 7-year-old German Shephard service dog beat the rescue team to her. Fintel said her dog, Indie, was her first responder and made sure she was OK.


“He made sure that I wasn’t in shock,” Fintel said. “He laid beside me, he licked me, he was extremely comforting.”

When the search and rescue team got to her, they radioed for medical assistance.

The U.S. Coast Guard was dispatched at 12:48 p.m. from Astoria, Oregon, according to the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office, and arrived on the scene three hours later.


“When we request a helicopter it goes through the State Department of Emergency Management,” Skamania County Undersheriff Pat Pond told ABC News. “The VRT has to hike to get the patient. They take the same route as the hikers take.”

It’s usually why it takes a long time for injured hikers to receive an emergency response, Bond explained.

Colton Tourtway, a U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer, told KATU that he felt her good spirit when he arrived on the scene, adding she even joked with him by saying: “Oh crap, I’m being saved by Coasties.”


She was then transported to the Oregon Health and Science University Hospital. She suffered a broken hip, a concussion, and deep lacerations. She’s expected to remain hospitalized for a few days before beginning rehab.

While Fintel now recognizes how dangerous mountains can really be, she still wants to be back on the trail again within six to eight weeks if she recovers fully in time.

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