Mountain searches are not always easy
It's an amazing story, even though we haven't heard much from her yet and haven't gotten any details about how she survived. Immediately after the rescue, she did not seem to remember anything. What we've heard is that she and her husband were bow hunting for elk in the Wallowa Mountains in eastern Oregon. Again, the details are sketchy, but their vehicle became stuck and then her husband, Harold, broke his wrist trying to free it. They took off walking for help and somehow became separated. Harold was found and a search ensued for Doris.
Apparently, searchers were only expecting to find remains as they continued combing the mountains two weeks after Doris first went missing. But a search party did find her and she was soon recuperating in a hospital.
Wonderful, amazing story, no doubt. We hope she eventually remembers it all and tells us what she did to survive. However, it got me started thinking in a different direction.
Harold was reportedly disoriented when he was found, but his location, his condition with a broken arm and all, and the approximate time since he had been with Doris should have given searchers a pretty good idea of the limits of where she would be.
Consider that this area is in the United States. Undoubtedly, it is mapped and charted. Rescue personnel have at least some familiarity with the region. You can pull up a satellite photo of the mountains online. Search parties have unfettered access to the area. A person could search there all day and never think about a sniper drawing a bead on him.
Another point in favor of finding Doris was that she wanted to go home. At the end, she was in poor shape, physically and mentally, and was probably no help to the searchers except that they heard her talking to herself. In fact, a doctor said later that she might have been within hours of death. However, in the initial days of the search, we can presume that she was actively looking for a way out, that she would have screamed had she heard voices, that she would have waved vigorously for an airplane or helicopter.
You might see where I'm headed.
When I first read the accounts of Doris Anderson, I could not help but think of Osama bin Laden.
On one hand, we have a woman who is lost and wanting to be found, in a relatively small area with which we are familiar, sought by local search teams. On the other hand, we have a man trained to stay undiscovered, supported by thousands in an attempt to remain unfound, thought to possibly be located in Afghanistan or Pakistan ... maybe. We are strangers in a strange land, trying to root him out of a hiding place.
Thinking about the two weeks it took to find Doris Anderson ... thinking about the two mountain climbers lost last year on Mount Hood and still not found ... is it really that unbelievable that someone like bin Laden is difficult to locate?
Then, I only find it worth mentioning because of all the comics who poke fun at our military for having not found the terrorist leader. To be fair, their jokes are directed at President Bush, but he is not in the field; our soldiers are, and I feel the ridicule is unduly critical of their efforts. It is also incredibly ignorant of the difficulty of their mission.
Steve Martaindale is a self-syndicated columnist. Write him at penmanmailsteve@ yahoo.com.