Ginseng Hunter Rescue
Ginseng Hunter Rescued After Fall
Posted: Sep 14, 2009 10:33 PM
Updated: Sep 15, 2009 7:12 AM
Two brothers on the hunt for ginseng in rural Lewis Lounty became the focus of a massive search and rescue effort.
It took 35 rescue workers from 3 counties 5 1/2 hours to find Paul Wayne and Willis Bolin, who had gone hunting ginseng in the Tar Fork area of Lewis County when Bolin lost his footing, fell over a log 12 feet and hit rocks.
Paul Wayne hiked nearly fifteen miles to a nearby store and called his sister Brenda, who called 911.
Rescue crews found Willis Bolin dehydrated with several broken bones, but alive. He was taken by helicopter to St. Mary's Hospital in Huntington.
Injured ginseng hunter rescued in Lewis County TAR FORK — By working together, three dozen rescuers were able to bring an injured ginseng hunter to safety Monday evening.
According to Lewis Count Deputy Sheriff Dwayne Stone, about 2 p.m., Monday, Willis Bolin, 48, of West Liberty, was hunting for ginseng with his brother Paul Wayne Bolin in a remote area of Lewis County known as Tar Fork.
"This is the time of year a lot of ginseng hunters are out, and they are sometimes not familiar with their surroundings," Stone said.
Willis Bolin apparently tripped over a log and fell 15 to 20 feet off a rock ledge and was severely injured, Stone said.
"He had injuries to his tibia, fibula, shoulder, collar bone and pelvis; his brother tried to make him comfortable; then he went for help." said Stone.
Getting help meant a long walk to where Paul Bolin could get a cellular phone signal out, Stone said.
"He finally got hold of family members in West Liberty who got in contact with Route 377 Fire Department along with Rowan County EMS. They met with Paul at Kentucky 377, at Nolan's Grocery," Stone said.
Eventually, Carter and Lewis county rescuers were notified of the situation and 35-40 rescuers worked their way through 15 miles of rugged terrain which crossed from Rowan County into Carter County then into Lewis County to get to Willis Bolin.
"A helicopter was called in from PHI, and MedCorp Ambulance here in Lewis County responded, along with fire and rescue units from (multiple communities in the tri-county region)," Stone said.
From the time help arrived on the scene it took another 20 minutes to prepare Willis Bolin for transport and 45 minutes for rescuers to carry him to the landing zone for the helicopter, Stone said.
"It was about 7:30 p.m., when they arrived at the helicopter. We were all really glad we got him out before dark. He was in bad shape, and if his brother had not gone for help, he may have died of exposure," Stone said.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Southeast Region officials, ginseng gathering is legal this time of year, with the Kentucky season running from Aug. 15 to December 1. Wild ginseng trade in Kentucky is a $5 to $8 million industry and Kentucky is the largest supplier of wild ginseng in the United States, averaging approximately 16 percent of the national harvest annually. The average wholesale value of wild ginseng to a root digger varies between $300 and $500 per pound.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture implements the ginseng management program in Kentucky, which is required by federal regulations in order for Kentucky’s ginseng to be eligible for export from the United States. A high percentage of Kentucky’s ginseng is exported to Southeast Asia where it is used in the medicinal trade, officials said.
Willis Bolin was taken to Saint Mary's Medical Center in Huntington, W.Va., his current condition was unknown, Stone said.
Posted in News on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 12:00