Japanese man who headed for Mount St. Helens still missing

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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A Japanese man who set off to climb Mount St. Helens on Nov. 27 is still missing.

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office flew over the mountain Wednesday in search of Yosuke Onishi, 26. Deputies and volunteers with the Volcano Rescue Team searched areas on and around the mountain where disoriented hikers are typically found.

Onishi reportedly hitchhiked Nov. 26 to Cougar in Cowlitz County from a Portland hostel.

A Skamania County sheriff’s deputy said an employee at the Lone Fir Resort in Cougar reported that Onishi borrowed snowshoes, and apparently left a sleeping bag at the registration desk.

But on Nov. 30, the sleeping bag was gone, and it’s not known who picked it up.

The owner of the Lakeshore Store and Deli, Ronald Jackman, said that he saw Onishi get into a light gray or brown passenger car with a couple who had a small white dog, according to the sheriff’s office.

The couple returned to the store to report that Onishi “was still up there,” possibly near the base of the mountain, and wanted people to know because they were a little concerned about him. Deputies watched video footage of the stores in the Cougar area and were unable to read the license plate of the car. They have not been able to identify the couple who gave him a ride.

Deputies have been in touch with the Japanese Consulate, which contacted Onishi’s family. They have not heard from him since the day he went missing, the sheriff’s office said.

Onishi was last seen wearing a black coat and dark-colored pants. Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to call the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office at 360-577-3092. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call crime stoppers at 360-577-1206.