By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
Darrington, Wash.– Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue (SCVSAR) K9 and Tracker teams followed boot prints to locate a man who went missing around Squire Creek Road on February 11.
Greg Sanders, Sergeant for SCVSAR, said the man in his 50s had gone for a short hike in the Squire Creek Road area with a friend when they got separated. The man’s friend, whom he had been with, contacted the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, reporting him as missing. The SCVAR office was contacted 24 hours after the man had gone missing.
It is believed the man hiked down below the trail and then began to hike along the creek itself. SCVSAR suspects that he then attempted to get back up to the trail where the creek crosses but was farther away from the starting point than he thought.
“There are multiple creek crossings the farther you hike in,” said Sanders. “From there he continued to lose track of where he was. With no other people in the area at that time and the amount of snow coming down, he simply was lost and wandered.”
The man was wearing only jeans and a couple of sweatshirts at the time of his disappearance, with a significant amount of snowfall and the temperature dipping below freezing in the area.
The SCVSAR teams deployed quickly, attempting to track the man going into his second night lost in the snow without the adequate cold-weather clothing and provisions. Sergeant Sanders arrived at the trail parking lot around 5:45 p.m. with four human trackers and three K9 teams, each comprised of a handler, field support person and the K9 partner, commencing their search at about 8:20 p.m.
Snow continued to fall as the teams began their search. One of the trackers spotted the man’s boot tread pattern, pushing one of the responding K9 teams to stretch the search area to just over two miles from where the parking area is from the trail. That same K9 team was then able to discover a boot print where they believed the man had gone off the trail.
After over two hours of searching, K9 Handler Jake, Field Support Brandon and K9 Clyde located the man wandering off the trail two miles from the parking area at around 10:50 p.m. There were about 10 inches of snow in the area he was found with new snow coming, said Sergeant Sanders.
The man, despite being exhausted, damp, cold, hungry, and thirsty, was in good spirits, said Sanders. Search and Rescue members guided the man, who was able to walk under his own power, back to the trailhead, where he was taken to medics waiting nearby.
The man was determined to be uninjured and was ultimately brought back home safely.