Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Tue, October 22 2013 at 4:43 PM, Updated: Tue, October 22 2013 at 4:56 PM
An evening spent lost in the woods has given a Klamath Falls woman a new appreciation for search and rescue crews.
Billie-Jean Biria got lost shortly before noon on September 18th while she was at elk camp with her husband. She walked away from camp to find a red beanie lost by her 10-month old son Shadan...
"So I went, and grabbed the beanie, turned around, looked for camp, and camp was gone. Camp disappeared."
Sergeant Randall Swan of the Klamath County Sheriff's Office notes that search and rescue crews were called out later that afternoon...
"It was a scary one. I mean, this is one that we pulled out the stops for, knowing that a lady with unknown provisions, and a 10 month old baby were in the wilderness."
Biria and her son spent the evening in a crude shelter built near a hollowed out tree, as temperatures dropped to 30 degrees...
"As soon as it got dark, we curled up in a ball. I put him under my shirt, and we stayed there the whole night."
Sgt. Swan says additional resources were called in at nightfall...
"At that point, we 'hit the big button', and called out CORSAR, California Oregon Search And Rescue."
Biria eventually heard a familiar sound late the next afternoon...after being lost for 21 hours...
"I heard my husband's truck." Recalls Biria. "And ran for the wind, and found camp."
Biria says she was shocked to learn how many people had been looking for her...
"I showed up, there was like 50 or 60 people out there to go and look for me."
Sergeant Swan adds: "Whether you're an experienced woodsman or not, this can happen to anyone."
Biria attended a search and rescue academy last weekend...and now plans to become a volunteer.
Swan notes that Klamath County's search and rescue team was called out 58 times last year.
The majority of those search and rescue members are volunteers.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.