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Outdoor Enthusiast Rescued on the Pacific Crest Trail

Rescue Profile: Deb Fuller
Case #: 16786


Deb Fuller


Conquering the mountainous North American Pacific Crest Trail is no walk in the park, but that never stopped Deb Fuller, a 63-year-old great-grandmother of six, and her husband Rick from taking on the trek.

The seasoned outdoor enthusiasts were determined to scratch the 2,650 mile trail off their bucket list. Luckily, with experience comes safety-consciousness, so the couple brought their SPOT GEN3® Satellite Messenger along for their adventure.


On June 26th, Deb and Rick were 300 miles into their journey and had reached Kennedy Meadows, CA when Deb attempted to step over a log. Unfortunately, her pant leg got caught and down she went, twisting her leg and injuring her left hand. Rick helped her up and the two continued to hike a grueling 25 miles over the next two days until Deb's knee gave out.

"At that point, it was evident I wasn't going anywhere. My left knee was twice the size of my right," Deb recalled.

Deb and Rick were faced with a hard decision. There was absolutely no cell coverage in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Their only options were to hike another 12-18 hours toward Lone Pine for medical attention, or push the S.O.S. button on their SPOT GEN3 and be rescued. After looking at a map, Rick realized the terrain would be too rugged to climb and didn't want to risk any further injury to Deb and so they decided to push the S.O.S button at 7AM the next morning.

Deb and Rick made bets on the time it would take for SAR to arrive at their high altitude location. Having flown for the U.S. Air Force, Rick predicted it would take at least 5 hours for help to arrive at their 10,000-foot elevated location. However, within 3 hours, the SAR helicopter landed to rescue them.

Deb was transported to the nearest hospital and treated for a torn meniscus in her right knee and she thanks California Highway Patrol Search and Rescue, Inyo County's Sheriff and SPOT for her rescue.

"I want to give a big thank you to CHP SAR (Pilot Scott and Paramedic Shane) for the high altitude rescue. Thanks to the Inyo County Sheriff (Deputy Vaughn) for coordinating the rescue. Thanks to SPOT for initiating; I was airborne in about 4 hours headed to Lone Pine Southern Inyo Hospital. Thanks to everyone at Lone Pine Hospital for the excellent care and assistance in securing lodging and transportation. Last but not least, thank you to Trail Angel Scott for transportation to Ridgecrest. We are in route to Pensacola and we'll be back for another trip!"

Deb also advises, "At a bare minimum, you need to have a personal locator device like SPOT because you never know what is going to happen. If you don't think you need it, you have a high level of risk tolerance. I think everyone should travel with one for lower risks and safer travels."

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