The 911 call came Thursday afternoon from a 21-year-old man who had just hiked 14 hours, praying for cellphone reception.
His prayer was answered when he reached Carbonado, a small town near Mount Rainier National Park.
He dialed, and told dispatchers his story.
The man, whose name was not released, and a friend had driven off a cliff near Evans Creek off-road vehicle park about 10 p.m. Wednesday, rolling the SUV 25 times or so down steep hills before the vehicle landed on its top.
The caller said his friend was unresponsive after the crash so he started walking for help, scrambling up the cliff through the night. He was concerned about his friend, identified only as a 23-year-old Auburn man.
Two search and rescue teams, from East Pierce Fire & Rescue and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, immediately drove to where the men had veered out of control in the 38900 block of state Route 165.
An aerial search was conducted while ground crews set off through the woods to check on the driver. When they reached the smashed SUV, they found no sign of the driver, which initially was believed to be a good sign.
They assumed he was in good enough shape to go looking for help.
“Then they found some blood, followed the blood trail and found him deceased some distance away,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
The Medical Examiner’s Office will conduct an autopsy to determine the man’s cause of death.
Troyer said injuries from the accident likely killed the man.Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653 stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com