A 54-year-old hiker died after falling 150 yards on Mount Shasta Thursday. His 16-year-old son was rescued. According to a news release from Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office, the victim's son called 911 around 9:30 a.m. Thursday, reporting that his father, 54-year-old James Sieleman of Iowa, had fallen from the top of Red Banks. That's a geographic feature located approximately 12,800 feet up the steep slope of Mount Shasta.
The son later informed rescuers that his father had been climbing the mountain when he fell 150 yards down the steep, rugged, ice-covered slope and he appeared to be immobilized. The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Team deployed to the Bunny Flat trailhead on Mount Shasta. Due to the remote location of the injured hiker, they requested assistance from the CHP and the California Army National Guard (CARNG). The California Air National Guard's 'Spartan 630' helicopter responded from Sacramento, and the CHP's H-24 helicopter responded from its Auburn airbase. On the mountain, another hiker reached the injured man and determined he was still alive, but non-responsive. Strong gusty winds delayed several attempts at a helicopter rescue. Finally, the National Guard helicopter reached the injured hiker and lifted him from the mountain. Despite their heroic efforts, the man was pronounced dead by the on-board medic. The deceased hiker was transported to Mercy Mt. Shasta Hospital where waiting family members were apprised of the news. The 'Spartan 360' crew then departed and rescued the man's 16-year-old son from the 12,000-foot level of the mountain. He was transported to the same hospital and reunited with family members. Rescuers determined the juvenile was in distress after witnessing his father's fall and he was forced to endure several hours of adverse environmental and traumatic conditions. Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said the rescue effort demonstrates the dedication of several agencies to keep climbers safe. "This mission was a hazardous, life-saving effort that was accomplished by several federal, state, and local agencies," said Lopey. "The heroic efforts of the CHP and CARNG 'Spartan 360' crews were truly noteworthy, along with the efforts of the SCSO SAR and USFS Rescue Climber personnel. This incident illustrates the dedication, training readiness, team work, and valor that is so often exhibited by federal, state, and local aircrews, search and rescue personnel, rescue climbers and others willing to risk their lives to save others."
He added, "It is also comforting to know we have citizens that often place themselves in hazardous situations to help others in need. Although this rescue mission tragically did not result in a live recovery, it was a valiant effort and it is a great comfort knowing we can rely on the CHP, California Army National Guard, USFS Rescue Climbers, and SCSO SAR members, most of whom are volunteers, to respond to these types of challenging and often hazardous calls for service. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Sieleman, his family and friends in the aftermath of his tragic death." Last month, a 75-year-old man from Auburn died on Mount Shasta after he fell at the 10,000-foot level.