Missing teen hikers found safe

By Sara Bruestle | Jul 03, 2013

Two Kamiak High School grads who were missing after a day hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness were found Tuesday morning.

Ricardo Perez, 18, and Brian Chim, 19, set out on a hike around 7 a.m. Sunday to Mason Lake, near Snoqualmie Pass. They were reported missing by their parents.

King County Search and Rescue and the King County Sheriff’s Office searched Monday for Perez and Chim and resumed the search on Tuesday. The teens were rescued just after 7 a.m.

King County sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West said the hikers were picked up by a sheriff’s office helicopter and brought to Bandera Air Field in North Bend.

“They were both really hungry, really tired, pretty scratched up from going through the brush, and really thankful to be found,” she said.

The two were found near the Pratt River, about 7 miles from the trailhead where they had parked a car. Rescuers estimated that they hiked more than 17 miles in the last three days.

Perez, of Edmonds, graduated from Kamiak this year, and Chim, of Mukilteo, graduated in 2012. Chim just finished his freshman year at the University of Washington.

Search efforts started early Monday morning with sheriff’s deputies, search and rescue volunteers and a sheriff’s office helicopter.

The two were spotted near a river shortly after the search resumed with a second helicopter from Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

“We were just going up with our helicopter, and we were deploying some searchers into the area, and Snohomish County radioed us that they spotted them,” West said. “We then lowered a hoist and hoisted them both up.”

The search area was about 45 miles east of Seattle and west of Snoqualmie Pass up the Ira Spring Trail.

Perez and Chim left for a hike and a swim in the Alpine Lakes area before 7:30 a.m. They parked their car near the trailhead for Bandera Mountain and Mason Lake.

After the teens didn’t come home Sunday night, their parents reported them missing. Their car was found near a trailhead at Mason Lake around 1 a.m. Monday.

They were last heard from around 10:30 a.m. Sunday before they both lost cellphone reception on the trails.

West said the two had hiked to Mason Lake and then headed to another lake, but lost the trail in the snow on the way there.

“There are 10 different lakes up here,” King County Det. Jason Stanley said Monday. “We have quite a few resources trying to find them.”

Worried for their safety, both of their fathers had waited at the command post as rescue teams searched Monday.

“We’re absolutely grateful that they’re safe,” said Terence Chim, Brian’s father. “We have a huge sense of relief and tremendous gratitude to their friends and to the search and rescue teams.”

Stanley said Monday that the overnight conditions in the area were very survivable.

“There’s not a reason for them to go missing,” he said Monday. “The trails are wide and well-used, and the trails had a lot of hikers during this time. The idea of them getting lost is hard to believe.

“There were so many hikers, they could just say ‘Here’s the trail.’”

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