Survivor Club

Rescue Map

My Dad insisted that I take my PLB with me

Name Sara Warncke
Product Name AquaLink™ PLB
Date of Rescue 08/17/2017
Saved By Skagit County SAR - USAF
Beacon Purchased From Sportys Pilot Shop
Lives Saved 1

As my daughter Sara explains:


Photo of Hidden Lake before I got lost on my way down.


On the morning of 17 AUG 17 I embarked on a trip in the North Cascades to Hidden lake and hooked up with 2 other girls for the hike up. It was a gruelling hike up to the summit. The other 2 girls had planned to spend the night at Hidden lake. Since I did not have overnight gear I decided to hike back down the mountain. On my way down delirium and extreme muscle fatigue set in when I lost track of the trail I was on. I began scrambling down boulders hoping to get a better view of the trail that I was on. No luck and it turned out that I was actually getting further and further away from the trail I was on. After resting a bit it was clear to me that I was way off course. Panic and fear was starting to set in, it was clear that I was way off course and lost. I did not see or hear any other hikers for a couple of hours. It was getting later in the day and I started to panic that I might be spending the night out here, possibly get attacked by a cougar, bear, that I might never see my family again. My Dad insisted that I take my PLB with me at all times when on my hiking adventures and to use if I were ever in need of real help. I estimated that I only had about 3 hours of daylight left. So if the USAF - rescuers were going to find me they would need daylight. So I decided now was the time to activate my ACR Aqualink PLB.


It seemed like a long time and nothing seemed to be happening and I started to really freak out. I started screaming for help over and over again. After what seemed like a long time way way in the distance there was a man and his dog apparently the dog kept stopping which we later figured out the dog was hearing my screams. The man signalled to me that I needed to hike back up from where I was in order traverse a ravine and he met me on the correct trail. It was getting dark at this time and the man escorted me down the mountain with his dog and headlamp.


Once I got back to my car I drove to where I found cell phone service and called my Dad in Connecticut. He told me that the Sheriff Devroe of the Skagit County search and rescue thru the USAF was putting a team together to go look for me and that I needed to contact him. I called Sheriff Devroe. He wanted to make sure that I was OK and not in need of any medical help or assistance. I told him I was OK. I called my Dad back to let him know I was OK and that I could not figure out how to turn off the unit. My Dad told me to find a gas station, hardware store or the like and get a philips head screwdriver and remove the cover and disconnect the batteries which I did and then called him back. My Dad said he called the USAF search and rescue center and confirmed with them that the beacon was silent which it was. My Dad then told me to call Sheriff Devroe that the beacon was silent and thank him for his help.


My advice to other hikers: know your resources, respect your personal limits, make your voice heard, always hike with a buddy, always have my ACR Aqualink PLB in my pack.


Here is the Dad’s perspective: After putting together a timeline, I figured that about 30 minutes passed from when Sara activated the PLB and my first contact with Sheriff Devroe. This time line might have been even shorter had I reset online that Sara was no longer in Bryce Canyon Utah but rather now in the Cascades of Washington State. That call was the worst call a parent could ever receive. It is very comforting to know that each segment of the system worked flawlessly, the ACR unit, the satellite system, the USAF monitoring system, the acknowledgement-confirmation process of me as the primary contact thru Sheriff Devroe. Thank you so much for a remarkable equipment and systems.



To the employees of ACR: thank you so much for making a quality product that works in extreme conditions. I got a call a father-parent never wants to get. It is most comforting to know that your product, the satellites, USAF monitoring system and the SAR confirmation process all worked flawlessly. All No doubt the result of everyone's contribution, from the shipping and receiving person, to the front office, to the teams in manufacturing. Thanks again for your efforts. Regards, Lee A. Warncke BTW I have told this positive experience to many parents and fellow pilots!!