The wayward tourist: ‘I can’t believe I’m this person.’

911 recordings provide first-person account of Mount Walker outhouse rescue

Posted 5/14/22

She lost her balance, but not her sense of humor.

A tourist from California who fell head first into a vault toilet while trying to retrieve a cellphone she had dropped while using the public …

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The wayward tourist: ‘I can’t believe I’m this person.’

911 recordings provide first-person account of Mount Walker outhouse rescue

Posted

She lost her balance, but not her sense of humor.

A tourist from California who fell head first into a vault toilet while trying to retrieve a cellphone she had dropped while using the public outhouse at the Mount Walker Viewpoint kept her composure and didn’t panic, according to 911 calls with dispatchers made on the day of her unpleasant plummet.

Rescue crews were called to the popular scenic outlook in Olympic National Forest on Tuesday, April 19 when dispatchers received a report that a visitor had fallen into the pit of an outhouse at the edge of the parking lot of the north viewpoint.

Turns out, the call came from inside the house, according to dispatch recordings of the incident released by JeffCom 911 Communications earlier this week.

The recordings reveal the woman who fell into the outdoor toilet stayed calm throughout her conversations with a 911 dispatcher, poking fun at the predicament she found herself in.

The incident prompted headlines across the country, was reported on CNN and featured in newspapers as far away as the United Kingdom, and inspired countless “Can you believe it?” comments across social media.

Authorities said at the time the tourist, a woman in her 40s, had dropped her phone while using the facilities and then took the toilet apart, removing the seat and its casing, in an attempt to retrieve her phone.

She then used her dogs’ leashes to fashion a harness that would hold her weight as she struggled to reach down for the phone.

Instead, the leashes gave way and she fell about 8 feet to the bottom of the outhouse pit.

After 15 minutes or so, the tourist abandoned efforts to climb out and instead dialed 911.

The first call

Dispatcher: “911. What’s your emergency?”

Caller: “Hi. I can’t believe I’m this person. Um. I’m stuck in a port-a-potty.”

Dispatcher: “In a port-a-potty?”

Caller: “In a port-a-potty, on ... I didn’t even capture the scenic route off the side... And my phone fell down and then I slipped into it. And I’ve been trying to get out. And I just need a lift.”

Dispatcher: “OK. So where are you at?”

Caller: “I’m up at the top of a scenic route of ... to look at Mount ...Oooh hold on. I’m sorry. I’m going to try to figure it out.”

“Were you on Mount Walker?”

“That sounds right.”

“Coming like from Quilcene to Brinnon, in that area?”

“Yes.”

“OK. So you went up to the top of the lookout at Mount Walker?”

“The north side.”

“OK. The lookout, though?”

“Yes.”

“OK. OK.”

[Laughter.]

The woman then told a dispatcher that she had attempted to climb out of the pit, and also had tried to use a stick in an effort to apparently get her phone back, with no luck.

Caller: “I can’t believe I’m this person.”

Dispatcher: “It happens. So you are actually stuck in the port-o-potty?”

Caller: “I am stuck in. Yeah. Yes. [Disparaging phrase]. I just need some strong man to come lift me out, cause I can’t do it. [Laughter.] Or get me a ladder. Because I thought the leashes that I had and the stick would work. And I keep slipping.”

Dispatcher: “Yeah, OK. But, I mean, you’re not injured? You’re just stuck in there, correct?”

“I’m not injured, I’m just stupid.”

“No...”

[More laughter.]

After a brief moment of silence, the caller asked if the dispatcher was still on the line.

“Did I lose you?”

“No, no. I’m here. Sorry I’m talking on the radio and talking to my partner. How long have you been stuck in there?”

“Oh, probably 10 or
15 minutes.”

“OK.”

Road trip pit stop

The tourist described the car she had been driving, which was parked in the viewpoint lot.

Caller: “I’m driving a blue Volt. There’s dogs in the car. They’re fine. They were fine when I left them.”

Dispatcher: “You’re driving a what?

“A blue Volt. A blue Chevy Volt.”

“Oh, OK. Sorry. Just really want to make sure I have your right location. So you were on [US] 101, were you going north or south?”

“I was going north toward Port ... Um. shoot. What’s the name of them? Angeles, I think.”

“Toward Point Angeles? But you were on Mount Walker?”

“Yes.”

“So you just came through Brinnon?”

“Yes.”

“OK. And then, um, you got to the top of Mount Walker and you took the road to the right? To the Mount Walker Lookout?”

“I took the road that said ‘North Lookout.’”

“North Lookout. OK, OK. What’s your name?

“Elana.”

“Elana?”

“Yes.”

“OK. We’re getting them on the way. So, um.”

“Otherwise known as stupid tourist from California that goes,’Oh my God! There goes my phone!’”

[Laughter.]

Dispatcher: “Well, just think what story you’re going to have to be able to tell. Not that. [Pause.] If you ever choose to tell it. How’s that?

[More laughter.]

Dispatcher: “Oh goodness. So did you just come through the area? Like you’re just getting here now?”

Caller: “Yeah. I’m just doing a road trip.”

“OK. So your Chevy has California plates on it?”

“It does.”

The dispatcher called for emergency responders, describing the incident as a “Service request.”

“Female stuck in a port-a-potty,” the dispatcher added.

The dispatcher told the woman that help would soon be on the way.

Dispatcher. “Hang on just a second.”

Caller: “OK.”

Dispatcher: “So other than this, how are you liking Washington so far?”

Caller: “Otherwise, it’s beautiful. This is probably the worst view I’ve seen.”

Dispatcher: “Yeah, probably. OK.”

[Laughter.]

‘Not going anywhere’

The small talk continued.

Dispatcher: “I was just talking to them on the radio and they said they are on the way. They’re going to get there as quickly and as safely as they can.”

Caller: “That’s fantastic. I really thought I could get myself out of this and I’m realizing that it’s just going to get worse.”

Dispatcher: “Yeah, yeah...”

Caller: “Yup.”

Dispatcher: “Alright. You want to stay on the phone with me until they get there?”

“Uh, no. I’m pretty sure. I’m not going anywhere. I’ll just be happy to get out.”

“OK. So if I have any questions, if they have any problems finding you or anything, then I’m going to give you a call back. OK?”

“Awesome. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.”

“Uh-huh. Bye bye.”

Four firefighters/EMTs from Rescue 41 from the Brinnon Fire Department and Aid 21 from Quilcene Fire & Rescue were at the viewpoint within 20 minutes of the dispatch call from JeffCom.

Unable to reach the woman to pull her out, responders passed down pieces of wood cribbing to the woman below so she could make a platform to stand on. Emergency crews then put webbing around the woman and pulled her out —  roughly 42 minutes after the emergency call.

All told, the woman spent about an hour in the bottom of the outhouse.

“Patient extricated,” came the message from one responder.

A hose line was attached to Rescue 41 and the tourist was gently hosed down.

She was then given a Tyvek suit to wear.

Brinnon Fire Chief Tim Manly said earlier the woman did not want to be taken to the hospital and she was released at the scene.

Comments

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  • Snowball_InHawaii

    "It happens??" I've seen the bumper sticker, and I don't think it says "it".

    Sunday, May 15 Report this

  • Snowball_InHawaii

    Had she called ME on that phone, I would have thrown my phone away afterwards, and hosed myself down with bleach!

    Sunday, May 15 Report this

  • Justin Hale

    Sounds like something out of the movie "The Magic Christian".....

    I've asked around and have yet to find anyone who would do that.

    A possible ad-vert for the cell phone manufacturer?

    Sunday, May 15 Report this