A search and rescue team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island rescued an injured hiker Saturday afternoon, who was knocked unconscious after falling down a slope near Lake Constance in the Olympic Mountains.
Aaron Brengle was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where his fiancé Caitlin Ford told KIRO 7 he's now fighting for his life.
Ford, who said Brengle is an experienced hiker, watched as her fiancé and father of their six-month-old child fell after stepping on the base of a tree.
"The trail went through a really steep, rocky face and there was a tree coming out of that rocky space," said Ford. "When he stepped on it, it uprooted, fell down; he fell down with it, about 15 feet, hit the ground, slid another 10."
The remote trail that leads to Lake Constance is southwest of Quilcene on the Olympic Peninsula.
"The tree was huge—didn't look unsteady," said Ford. "It was a freak accident."
Ford said the couple's first aid kit was inside Brengle's backpack that was shredded in the fall. She decided to go find cellphone service and call for help.
"I ran one and a half miles down to this road walk and then someone had left their bike there, so I stole their bike and I rode for 4 miles out to my car, the whole while dialing 911," said Ford, who met with deputies as volunteer search and rescue crews were called along with Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The Naval search and rescue team rappelled two crew members north of the injured hiker's location. Crews located Brengle and hoisted him aboard the helicopter.
Ford said she later learned that when she left to find help, the hiker whose bike she took farther down the trail, had come across Brengle and bandaged him.
More than $8,000 has been raised for Brengle and his family through a GoFundMe.
"It's hard when you're in this vacuum of feeling alone while you're waiting for some of the most important news of your life, that could be life-changing," said Ford. "To have so many people supporting you, it's really incredible."
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