The two teens that were rescued from the Sluice Boxes State Park on Tuesday got to meet some of their rescuers on Wednesday.
Airmen with the 40th Helicopter Squadron from Malmstrom Air Force Base meet Kami St. Pierre, 16, and her 14-year old sister Dacy on Wednesday (and their Jack Russell terrier, Peanut).
On Monday, the girls were dropped off at a trail head and were supposed to meet with their family but never showed up.
After crossing one creek, Kami lost her sandals to the rapid current. They then crossed another creek that wasn’t as powerful. It was the third creek that knocked all three off their feet, and swept them 30 feet downstream.
Kami explained: “This water was knee deep, that’s it, and it took us out. And in that moment I was not going to let go of either of them. So we got across there, and I told her we’re not crossing this again.”
Helicopter crews from Malmstrom flew over the girls several times during the night but were unable to see them.
On Tuesday morning, crews were able to spot the teens within five minutes of searching and one of the pilots waved at them to make it known they had seen them.
The crew flew two flights in eight hours but was unable to locate the girls.
The helicopter crew was relieved by a second crew consisting of pilots Capts. Matt Thompson and James Harris; two special mission aviators: Tech. Sgts. Daniel Marchick and Andrew Blankenship; and flight surgeon Maj. Melonie Parmley.
"Our first crew had searched for almost four hours through the night. We were not expecting to see right away. We were expecting to be searching for a while. To see them that first pass was pretty exhilarating. This was my first time actually getting to do it. To have all that training pay off, it was a pretty rewarding experience," said Captain Matthew Thompson.
Cascade County Search & Rescue, Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks, Cascade County Sheriff's Department, and Malmstrom were all dispatched on the search and rescue mission.
Staff Sgt. Delia Marchick of the 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office published the following information on the Malmstrom AFB website:
With daylight on their side the second crew was able to spot the two girls within minutes of officially beginning their search. “We did two initial passes just to orient ourselves to the area, we then turned back on the third pass to actually start searching and it took us maybe five minutes to find them,” said Harris.
The team worked to set up the hoist, then lowered the flight doctor down to a clearing where the two girls were waiting and waited for the doctor to do an assessment of the girls.
When they heard back from the flight doctor they hoisted the two girls up and noticed the girls brought their dog who was safe inside one of the SAR jackets the girls were wearing.
“One of them didn’t even have shoes on because she lost her shoes in the creek,” said Parmley. “She fell in, her sister fell in, she went in after her sister and they ended up on the other side of the river and couldn’t get back.”
While this marks the 418th and 419th save for the 40th HS, the aircrew doesn’t take full credit for this save.
“A lot of the credit goes to the older sister who made the decision to climb up the ridge and find an open spot so we could see them,” said Harris.