OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK — A 21-year-old Oregon man was found dead Saturday morning after a 20-to-30-foot fall off Mount Storm King on Friday, officials said.
Olympic National Park would not release the name of the deceased on Saturday out of respect for the family, said Penny Wagner, Olympic National Park spokeswoman.
The man’s hiking partner, a male estimated to be similar in age, witnessed the fall and reported it at about 2:45 p.m. Friday, Wagner said.
The two men reportedly took different routes while hiking down the mountain.
Near the summit, the partner descended by a rope system along an area of the Storm King Trail that the park does not maintain, Wagner said.
The other man traveled down rocky terrain before slipping on a rock that came loose, falling 20 feet to 30 feet and tumbling down another 100 feet or so upon landing, Wagner said.
A search and rescue team comprised of seven park rangers and several members of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island set out Friday afternoon, acting on the assumption that the man was still alive, Wagner said.
“There was no assumption that the man died from succumbing to injuries,” she said. “They were looking for a man that could still be alive.”
The search was discontinued Friday night when it became too dark and was resumed at 6 a.m. Saturday.
The seven rangers began the search, 10 members of Olympic Mountain Rescue joined at about 8:30 a.m. and a team from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island flew in a helicopter after cloudy weather improved at about 9:15 a.m., she said.
View of the man was shrouded by a heavy canopy of trees, Wagner said.
He was found dead “somewhere above the end of the park-maintained trail,” she said.
The man appeared to suffer a traumatic injury, Wagner said. She could not say if he died on impact.
The helicopter crew hoisted his body out of the wooded area and transported him to an airport, probably William R. Fairchild International in Port Angeles. He was then taken to a funeral home, Wagner said.
Wagner did not know why the man chose to take a different route — “just that he went a different way,” she said.
“It’s important that hikers be aware of the area, surroundings and trails,” Wagner said. “It’s a tough thing because people are out enjoying the park, and it’s something you wouldn’t wish upon anyone.”
Reporter Sarah Sharp can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56650, or at [email protected].