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Overdue hiker found alive at Olympic National Park

Post by Craig Hill / The News Tribune on May 13, 2012 at 12:26 am |
May 13, 2012 12:26 am

A statement released today by Olympic National Park:

The search for David Snider, 55 years old, of Union, Washington concluded successfully at about 7:30am today when he was hoisted from a drainage near the Irely Lake Loop trail in Olympic National Park by a King County Sheriff’s Rescue Helicopter.  Snider was dehydrated, slightly hypothermic,
and tired, but otherwise appeared in good condition.  He was transported to a local hospital for further examination.

Snider was reported overdue on Wednesday morning when he failed to return to work after a planned day hike on the Irely Lake loop trail.  Snider had begun his day hike at approximately 3:30pm on Monday.  He had planned to hike part of the Irely Lake loop trail and return Monday evening.  When he reached Three Lakes at 9:00pm he attempted to loop back to the trailhead via a shortcut.  Deep snow on the ridges and steep terrain in the drainage trapped him near the creek.

“The terrain in the Olympic Mountains can be unforgiving,” said Olympic National Park Chief Ranger Colin Smith. “The unexpected can happen, even on a short day hike. We advise all hikers to carry at least the 10 essentials - extra food and water, a map and compass, a flashlight, extra clothes, sun protection, a fire starter and matches, a knife, and first aid supplies - whenever they are out on the trails.”

Search efforts by Olympic National Park searchers began on Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday, a helicopter search located tracks in the snow that led to a drainage off the Irely Lake loop trail.  Ground personnel began tracking Snider from that point.  A King County heat sensing FLIR helicopter was brought in on Friday night to assist in the search.  At approximately 12:00am the FLIR Helicopter crew spotted a light source and at 12:30am Snider was located by the infrared camera.  A second King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, that was hoist capable, was brought in at first light to hoist Snider from the drainage.

“We are very pleased with the successful outcome of this search,” said Olympic National Park Search and Rescue Coordinator Larry Nickey. “Although we were able to locate the hiker’s tracks and identify his general location on Thursday, steep terrain and dense vegetation hindered our ability to find him quickly.  We recommend hikers to stay along the ridgelines, if lost, and avoid dropping into creek drainages due to the often steep drop offs associated with the Olympic Mountains.  If you find yourself in need of rescue, get into an open area and stay where you are, making yourself as visible as possible.”

Over 40 searchers were involved in the search, including personnel from Olympic National Park and Olympic Mountain Rescue and aided by a German Shepherd Search Dog team from Pierce County and personnel searching from the helicopters.

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