Hours after her first hike to the top of Mount Si, Marina Druse was back on the mountain again. She and good friend Jake Thompson started out at around 4:30 a.m. July 14, headed again for Haystack Rock, where they’d watched the sun set the previous evening. With them this time was another friend, Adam Thalhofer, but the trio was not on a pleasure hike this time. They were on a rescue mission, to save a man’s life.
North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing recounted the details of their efforts last month when he presented the three young adults with Life Saving Awards at the Tuesday, Aug. 6 meeting of the North Bend City Council.
Druse and Thompson, he said, had been hiking down from the Haystack after sunset, and they encountered groups of people still going up in the deepening dark. They were friends and family members of a man who they feared might be hurt on the mountain.
After talking with some of them, Thompson, a temporary worker with the city and aspiring firefighter, and Druse, serving as a military police officer in the Army Reserve, had decided they would come back to help. Thompson called Thalhofer, a volunteer EMT with the Snoqualmie Fire Department, and the three equipped themselves with flashlights and other search essentials, and went back to the trailhead. There, they talked to other searchers who said they’d spent hours on the mountain, calling for the man, but with no success.
It was about 1 a.m., and Thompson suggested resuming the search in a few hours. He and Druse slept in his truck at the trailhead, and awoke when Thalhofer returned at 4:30. By around 7:30, the three had reached Haystack and, seeing no sign of the man, began calling his name. After a couple of shouts, they heard a faint reply, and followed the sound to where the man lay, severely injured from a fall, under the Haystack.
He was in shock, with a black eye, multiple broken ribs, and, they learned later, collapsed lungs and spinal fractures in six places, Hearing said, but the man was alive, and able to talk to them. They called 911, and stayed with him, helping rescuers to locate and then load him into a helicopter around 11 a.m. Since then, they’ve also visited him in the hospital, and he is expected to make a full recovery.
“The doctors were saying that it’s a miracle that he not only survived the fall, but he made it to the hospital still breathing,” Hearing said.
Councilmembers called Druse, Thompson and Thalhofer heroes, and in presenting the three with their awards, Hearing said, “their willingness to step up and help another human being without regard for their own safety—someone they didn’t even know—makes me really proud.”