Search called off for missing Japanese hiker

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

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Deputies suspended the search for a missing Japanese man who set off on Mount St. Helens two weeks ago.

Searchers combed the area around the mountain and searched by plane for Yosuke Onishi, 26. Hikers reported that they hadn’t seen anyone who appeared to be in distress, according to the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies reviewed video footage from the Lakeshore Store and Deli in Cougar. They would still like to speak with the couple who visited the store on the morning of Nov. 27 and dropped off Onishi at the base of the mountain. The couple had a white dog with them in their gray or light brown car. The male had dark hair and the female appeared to be of Asian descent, according to the sheriff's office; both appeared to be in their 30s.

Onishi’s mother and sister, Tokiko and Ayako Onishi, flew into Portland and drove to Cougar with an interpreter, where they spoke with deputies.

Onishi is from Saga Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. He’s listed in the national missing persons database.

Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 360-577-3092. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 360-577-1206.