Ravine rescue 'a pretty amazing story'

A52-year-old Medford man who rolled his pickup Sunday into a steep ravine near Mount Ashland sat injured for nearly four days before a federal employee spotted him and summoned help.

Rescue workers pulled Forrest Kurt Liska from an 80-foot ravine off Forest Service Road 20 on Wednesday afternoon. Injured and dehydrated, Liska is lucky to be alive, said Jackson County Fire District No. 5 Division Chief Darin Welburn.

A Bureau of Land Management agent was patrolling the roads Wednesday morning when he saw tire tracks that led over the side of the road about 10 miles from Mount Ashland, according to Jackson County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Andrea Carlson.

The BLM official looked down the ravine and saw Liska sitting on a pile of rock. He was calling for help, Welburn said.

"It's a pretty amazing story, actually," Welburn said. "If the (BLM) guy had not heard him, there's no telling how long he would have been out there."

Liska was driving his 1988 Ford Bronco in the area when he ran off the road and pitched 80 feet down the slope.

Rescue crews from several agencies worked to pull Liska from the ravine.

"Everyone did a good job working together to get him out of there," Welburn said.

Liska was conscious and talking with rescue personnel, officials said.

"When we got him out, we called his mother on a cellphone and let him tell her he was all right," Welburn said.

Liska was taken by ambulance to Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford, where he was being treated for his injuries in the emergency room late Wednesday, according to spokesman Grant Walker.

"We don't have an update on his condition at this time, but he is receiving treatment," Walker said.

Liska's family reported him missing to Medford police Tuesday after he hadn't been seen since Sunday. They told police he enjoys hiking alone in the Applegate area, Carlson said.

Medford police contacted sheriff's deputies and asked them to search the Applegate area for Liska, Carlson said.

Jackson County Search and Rescue scouted the hiking trails in the Applegate looking for Liska, but found no signs of him, Carlson said.

The sheriff's office sent information about Liska to the BLM and U.S. Forest Service, asking for their employees to keep an eye out for Liska's Bronco.

Welburn said the crash could have easily killed Liska.

"It's an ugly stretch there," Welburn said. "It's bouldery and would have been hot in this weather."

Welburn said the incident is a reminder that anyone traveling alone in remote areas should be sure to tell others where they are going and the route they plan to take.

"You should also pack supplies such as a cell phone, water and food in case something happens," Welburn said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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