Doctor dies after fall at Illumination Saddle on Mt Hood

Clackamas County

A climber with Portland Mountain Rescue found the person at 9,400 feet

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A search-and-rescue mission turned into a recovery mission on Mt. Hood Tuesday afternoon after a man died at 9,400 feet, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies said Dr. Cory Johnston, a 47-year-old surgeon at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, died in a skiing accident.

Dr. Cory Johnston died in a skiing accident in the Illumination Saddle area of Mt. Hood, Feb. 25, 2020. (Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office)

Officials said they received a 911 call just after 12 p.m. from two climbers who found Johnston in the “Illumination Saddle” area. He was wearing ski boots and had fallen from an unknown height.

Johnston was alive when the climbers found him but died before paramedics could reach him.

Clackamas County Sgt. Marcus Mendoza said an Oregon National Guard helicopter responded but was called off due to high winds so crews with Portland Mountain Rescue used a snowcat to reach Johnston’s location and brought his body down on a rescue litter.

Rescuers bring a man’s body down Mt. Hood on a litter, Feb. 25, 2020. (KOIN)

Mendoza said the man had been backcountry skiing on Tuesday. It’s unclear how he fell or how long he laid in the snow before the two climbers found him.

“Our rescuers responded from Portland Mountain Rescue, AMR and our search and rescue coordinators,” said Mendoza. “I could see it in their face — disappointment — when it turned to a recovery but these are professionals: they went up the mountain as safe as possible and they will come down as safe as possible.”

Illumination Saddle at 9,400 feet on Mt. Hood, Feb. 25, 2020. (Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office)

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