Lost hunter found safe near Forks

FORKS — An elk hunter who became lost in the woods was found cold, wet and tired — but otherwise unharmed — the next morning, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said.

Ricky Cruse Sr., 65, of Vader was hunting with his son, Ricky Cruse Jr. of Rainier, and their friends southeast of Forks on Tuesday when he separated from the hunting party and became lost and unable to find his way out of the woods before darkness set in, said Sgt. Lyman Moores of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.

The son reported his father missing to the sheriff’s office at about 6 p.m., Moores said.

He later told Deputy Jim Dixon that his father had text-messaged him at about 3:40 p.m., saying he was lost and needed help getting out of the woods.

Cruse Jr. said his father was an experienced hunter, had a backpack with survival gear and if he had to, he could spend the night in the woods, Moores said.

Dixon, with the help of Forks Fire Chief Bill Paul and other members of the fire department, drove in the area of Olympic Natural Resources Road (2000) where Cruse was last seen going into the woods but failed to find him.

Clallam Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue was called in and met Wednesday morning with about 20 Forks search volunteers, including members of Cruse’s hunting party and of the Forks Fire Department, Department of Natural Resources, Olympic Corrections Center Inmate Apprehension Team and members of the Border Patrol.

A detailed, systematic search of the area southeast of Forks where Cruse Sr. was last seen walking into the woods was conducted and at about 10:50 a.m., Cruse Sr. was found and walked safely out of the woods, Moores said.

At the Olympic Natural Resources Center, which had been set up as a command center, Cruse Sr. told searchers he became lost after following a herd of elk and was unable to find his way out of the woods before darkness set in.

He said he tried to walk out of the woods at daylight, but his legs were weak and he was tired.

The Clallam County Search and Rescue Team is always looking for new members, Moores said.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to phone 360-417-2262.

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