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Lost hiker learns valuable lessons after night on the mountain

By Mike Anderson, KSL TV | Posted - Aug. 12, 2020 at 8:54 a.m.

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LAYTON — Becky Ethington knows Fernwood Park pretty well, but she ventured further up the mountain and got lost in the dark. That’s why there was a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter with infrared cameras and search and rescue volunteers from several area agencies searching for her Monday night.

On top of that, family, neighbors, friends, even co-workers from the junior high where Ethington teaches, all helped with the search.

“I’m appreciative and really grateful for the people who showed up and care about me, and I love them just as much,” she said.

Ethington tried to find her way Monday night for a while with a small flashlight, but ultimately ended up hunkering down next to a tree.

She followed a stream back down the mountain Tuesday morning. Ethington said there are some things she’s learned from the overnight ordeal.

“(I) told my husband where I was going, said, ‘I’ll be back tonight, a little after dark,’ kind of thing, you know,” she said.

But she didn’t leave an exact location, which was further up the mountain than normal.

“I’m up at the top and ready to come back down, and up there the trail is really light,” Ethington said.

And it was getting dark. She tried a couple of times to find her way back.

“Just found a place under a pine tree and leaned back, hoping there were no termites, and went to bed for the night,” she said.

She had plenty of water but forgot her phone. Commander of Davis County’s Search and Rescue, Erik Bornemeier, said always go up with a full charge and don’t waste your batteries on social media. Plus, he warned hikers to be aware of the weather.

“Weather has a way of draining a battery; so extreme cold or heat,” he said.

Bornemeier also said when you call 911, it will usually give police dispatch your GPS location.

“So if you’re in trouble, call 911 first,” he said. “And call family members after. That way, we can get resources going to you right away.”

People search for missing hiker Becky Ethington. (Photo: KSL TV)

Ethington found her way back in the morning, following a stream downhill.

“Stay put, really,” she said. “I wish I would have done that last night. Stay put, have everything in your pack. You know, have your glass of water, have some food, have a sweatshirt, a hat. I usually have a hat. I didn’t have one.”

Bornemeier also said stay put. They’ve ended up following people around a mountain, on some searches.

And if you stop sweating, that’s a sign that heatstroke is on the way. Drinking from a creek or stream is better than going through that, but even better — always bring plenty of water.

Ethington walked right into the rescue command post with just a sunburn and some scratches.


Mike Anderson

KSL Weather Forecast