From the slopes of Mt. Rainier, to the wilds of the North Cascades National Park, to the pine forests of eastern Washington and the wide-open spaces of southern Washington, our members deployed on 11 SAR missions in 2019.
Many of the missions that our members go on cover multiple days and involve days of planning before we ever reach the search location. We work closely alongside local incident command staff and county sheriff’s departments, all with the goal of bringing home the lost and the missing.
In 2019 our missions included a variety of SAR-related incidents. We assisted in searches for lost hikers in two different national parks, as well as the successful rescue of four climbers stranded on Mt. Rainier for several days. We also assisted in several criminal evidence searches and provided remote search plans for multiple search operations.
Goodell Creek – 05/26/19
WASSPU was activated to provide a Remote Search Plan to assist the National Park Service in North Cascades National Park searching for a missing 7-year-old girl whose family was camping beside Goodell Creek. She was missing for 24 hours. She was located uninjured under circumstances that matched what the team determined to be the highest probability scenario.
Spray Park area of Mount Rainier National Park – Early June
Support for 2 missing hikers in the Spray Park area of Mount Rainier National Park.
Mt. Rainier Stranded Climbers – 06/05/19 – 6/06/19
SSPU members responded to the Incident Command Post at Longmire, Rainier National Park to assist the NPS in their rescue efforts to extract four stranded climbers near the summit. We were mentioned by name in the NPS national news release on this high-profile rescue when the Four climbers were successfully rescued.
Mt. Rainier Missing Hiker – 06/27/19
Rainier NPS requested the assistance of WASSPU for a missing man who was hiking on or near the Muir Snowfield. Bad weather came in and the subject failed to return. SSPU members responded to the command post at Longmire to assist with planning for the next operational periods. The subject was located, deceased, in the vicinity of the Nisqually Glacier.
Alpental Missing Hiker – 07/09/19
WASSPU responded at the request of King County Sheriff’s Office for a missing hiker. He was last seen on 07-04. His car was located at the Alpental area on 07-09. Anticipating a large search area, KCSO Detective Christian requested the State SAR Planning Unit immediately. WASSPU Members deployed to the command post in the first operational period and were able to formulate a search plan for the second operational period. This plan utilized data from a brief video uploaded to the cloud from the missing person (possibly moments before his fall), cell phone forensic information, comparing satellite images to the video, interviewing witnesses and friends of the missing person, talking to climbers and skiers with local knowledge. WASSPU was able to determine the highest probability area to search. Teams were inserted the next morning and located the missing hiker, deceased, most likely resulting from a fall in the area identified as one of the highest probability areas based on analysis the night before.
North Cascades National Park – 09/15/19
WASSPU provided planning assistance to the National Park Service in North Cascades National Park for a missing 21-year-old woman who had gotten separated from her backpacking group in the Hidden Meadow area in Chelan County. She had been missing for about 36 hours in cold rainy weather. She was located uninjured early the next day by a canine team in an area designated by WASSPU as one of the top priority search areas.