Crater Lake ranger presented with Exemplary Act Award
National Park Service
Date: December 07, 2002
Contact: Dan Jacobs, (541)594-3053
On December 7, 2002, National Park Service Ranger Randy Benham was presented with the Department of Interior’s Exemplary Act Award in a ceremony at park headquarters. Chief Park Ranger Dave Brennan presented the award on behalf of Superintendent Chuck Lundy, “In recognition of Randy’s courageous actions that resulted in the rescue of a two avalanche victims at Crater Lake National Park.”
On January 21, 2002, park staff initiated a search for two skiers overdue from a trip around the rim of Crater Lake. Ranger Benham, volunteer ski patrol member Bill Bloom and park visitors Richard Ward and Kris Fisher were caught in an avalanche that released on a steep slope approximately 100 feet above their location on East Rim Drive. The
searchers were swept 100 feet down a steep hill. When the slide stopped, Benham was on top of the snow, and Ward was buried to his waist. Fisher was buried upside down with only his ski pole tip sticking out of the snow. Bloom was nowhere to be seen.
Ranger Benham took charge of the scene and led Ward in a search for the other two skiers. They located and dug out Fisher, who was buried head down in the avalanche debris. Benham then lead the group in a search for Bloom. He initiated a hasty search, picked up an avalanche beacon signal from Bloom, and using his ski poles to make a probe, quickly located Bloom who was completely buried under six feet of avalanche debris. By the time they dug Bloom out of the snow, he had been buried for almost 40 minutes, and was hypoxic and hypothermic. Benham treated Bloom for his injuries, which allowed him to later ski out under his own power. Ranger Benham’s timely, accurate and professional response undoubtedly saved the lives of both Bloom and Fisher.
Randy Benham began work as a Ranger with the National Park Service in 1993 at Crater Lake National Park. Since that time, the 43-year-old self-employed businessman has also worked as a Ranger for Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming and has volunteered as a member of the Crater Lake Ski Patrol. When not working for the National Park Service, Randy designs and manufactures rescue evacuation equipment and technical outerwear clothing. Randy, his wife Sharrol and his three children Sheana, Sean and Seth make there home in Merlin, Oregon.
Honor Awards are the most prestigious recognition that can be granted by the National Park Service or the Department of Interior for career accomplishments, exceptional support of the Department’s mission, or heroism. They are designed to give official recognition of singular or career achievements. The Exemplary Act Award was established in 1982 to honor an employee or private citizen who exhibits bravery in attempting to save the life of another. This award is based on the nature of the act and given individually or to a group. Superintendent Lundy expressed sincere appreciation for Randy and his accomplishments. “His training, experience and leadership under these extreme circumstances were directly responsible for preventing a difficult situation from becoming a tragic one. Randy’s actions continued the long history of selfless dedication by National Park Service rangers in saving the lives of others.”