Authorities urge safety in Shawnee National Forest

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In the past two weeks, agencies that respond to the Shawnee National Forest have seen an upturn in the number of responses being made to the area.

Over Memorial Day weekend, Saline County responded to the Garden of the Gods for three separate incidents.

Authorities said a 19-year-old woman from the Chicago area fell and suffered a leg and ankle injury. A few minutes later, a female from the Kansas City area fell and broke her hip. Then, a few minutes after that, authorities said a child had a heat-related issue.

Last week, Pope County responded to Burden Falls in the Shawnee National Forest where a woman from the Alton area fell to her death.

Both agencies are reporting an increase of people getting lost in the forest.

Lost hikers take time and resources to locate and return back safely.

Saline County Sheriff Keith Brown reminds visitors to the Garden of the Gods that they should wear appropriate shoes and clothing, bring water, and a fully charged cell phone.

Sheriff Brown also recommends letting someone know where you are going and what time you should be returning.

“This is a wilderness area and there is wildlife in the area, that includes snakes. It takes awhile for first
responders to arrive to the park and even longer to locate someone in the park,” said Sheriff
Brown. “The Garden of the Gods area doesn’t have good cellular phone coverage, so being dependent on a cell phone is not always an option. Bring a whistle or something that might get someone’s attention if you become lost.”

Saline County 911 does have the ability to receive text messaging for 911 and has used this technology in the past to aide hikers out of the park.

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(This story was originally published on May 29, 2018)

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