The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office says three hikers swam across Lewis River and needed to be rescued after they were unable to make it back across.
Deputies got a report about the stranded hikers at 9:13 p.m. Thursday. The group swam the river below the Lower Falls recreation site; they couldn’t get back across due to darkness, according to a sheriff’s office news release. The Lower Falls site is 37 miles east of Cougar in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Deputies and rescue teams, a total of 16 responders in all, were dispatched to help the hikers.
Once there, deputies learned that a group of five hikers waited for people to leave the area near a closed section. Then, four of them decided to wade across the river. Only one of them was able to make it back across, the sheriff’s office said.
“The others turned back as they were unsure of the current, and it was getting dark,” the news release says.
Rescuers set up a rope across the river and were able to rescue the three remaining hikers, according to the sheriff’s office.
Three 19-year-olds and a 20-year-old from University Place, as well as a 17-year-old, were cited for violating the county’s health order restricting access to the park.
“This is a perfect example of potentially exposing first responders to COVID-19 unnecessarily due to the complete disregard of well publicized orders from our state, county and local partners. The area in question is well-marked as closed,” the sheriff’s office said.