Friday, 17 April,2020
On Thursday, April 16, 2020, at approximately 9:13 pm The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office received a report that 3 hikers had swam across the Lewis River, below the Lower Falls Recreation site and were unable to navigate back across due to darkness. The Lower Falls site is 37 miles east of Cougar, Washington in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Skamania County Deputies, Skamania County Search & Recuse Team (SCSAR), and the Volcano Rescue Team (VRT) responded to the area. A total of 16 first responders.
Upon arrival, Deputy’s learned a group of 5 hikers were in the area of Lower Falls, waited for others to leave the closed area before entering. 4 of the hikers decided to wade across the Lewis River, however when they attempted to return, only 1 made it back across. The others turned back as they were unsure of the current and it was getting dark.
The Deputies, SCSSR, and VRT devised a rope system and were able to rescue the 3 remaining hikers. Malek K. Ahmed, 19, of University Place, WA; Abdulgziz A. Alghazal 20, of University Place, WA; Abduljalil N. Ahmed, 19, of University Place, WA; Ahmed M. Debashi, 19, of University Place, WA and a 17 year old Juvenile were all then cited and released for violation of the Skamania County Community Health Order restricting access.
This is a perfect example of 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.