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News / Clark County News

Two overdue hikers rescued off Mount St. Helens

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian environment and transportation reporter
Published: March 25, 2019, 5:26pm

The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office said it received word from the Tigard, Ore., Police Department about two overdue hikers on Mount St. Helens Sunday.

The two men, Lei Chen, 60, and Tianyi Zhai, 61, reportedly had limited hiking experience and were not prepared for overnight conditions.

The sheriff’s office said a deputy responded to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park and found the hikers’ vehicle. Search crews, including the Volcano Rescue Team, mobilized starting 2 a.m. Monday, the sheriff’s office said.

Searchers had no phone location information, as the men had turned theirs off, the sheriff’s office said.

Volcano Rescue Team searchers headed to the 5,000-foot level that morning, according to the sheriff’s office, and gave the all-clear for helicopter operations when they found the weather was clear.

At about 8 a.m., the hikers turned on a phone and contacted Skamania County dispatch. A dispatcher instructed them to make themselves visible from the air, and a helicopter spotted them a short time later, according to the sheriff’s office.

Using GPS coordinates, Volcano Rescue Team members located the two men, one of whom reportedly suffered from mild hypothermia, according to the sheriff’s office.

Both men were able to walk to a landing zone, where the helicopter picked them up. They were flown to the Marble Mountain Sno-Park.

Medical personnel examined the two men, and they left in their own vehicle, according to the sheriff’s office.

Columbian environment and transportation reporter