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Missing Hikers Located In The Trapper Creek Wilderness Area

Media Release

26, April 2016


On 4/24/16 at approximately 10:23 pm, the Skamania County Sheriff’s received a phone call from Kathy Sartain, from Grandview, WA, reporting her two daughters overdue from a hiking trip into the Trapper Creek Wilderness area. Kathy told dispatchers her daughters, Paula M. Bailes, 38, Grandview and Madison E. Sartain, 22, Grandview, were not very experienced, however did have supplies and adequate clothing for a wet and cold climate. She stated her daughters had planned to hike in the Trapper Creek area, several miles north of Carson, WA, spend Saturday night and return home on Sunday afternoon.   They were reported to be driving a white Mitsubishi SUV.

A search & rescue Deputy was dispatched to the area and quickly located the vehicle parked at the Trapper Creek Trailhead.  Family members began to arrive as well and a search mission was initiated the following morning.

On 4/25/16, a full ground and Ariel search was started. Searchers from around the region responded and the Sheriff’s Office contacted J&L Helicopter’s out of Boring, Oregon. They flew with a Sheriff’s Office spotter for nearly 6 hours on Monday in the Trapper Creek Area with negative results. The helicopter did locate 2 other hikers that were also reported overdue from their hike in the same area. Deputies and search teams continued into the evening hours driving roads, utilizing snowmobiles to check other arterial trails, along with additional ground searches. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office sent a fixed wing aircraft outfitted with Forward Looking Infrared System (FLIR), all with negative results. The search was suspended at or near 11:15pm.

On 4/26/16, the search resumed at 8:00 am. Members of the Clark County Search & Rescue, Multnomah County Search & Rescue, Hood River Sheriff’s Office air unit, and several family and friends of the Sartain’s assisted. We also received additional air support from the Washington State Army National Guard, who supplied 2 Blackhawk Helicopters, crew, and medics out of Joint Base Lewis/McChord.

At approximately 11:00am, both Bailes and Sartain were located by a family member, near Howe Ridge. Additional searchers reached their location and both walked out under their own power. At the debrief, we learned both Sartain and Bailes made it to their initial destination and camped for the night. In the morning, they began their trek out. At some point the trail gave out and both tumbled into a deep ravine. They both heard the rescue aircraft, but due to the dense tree canopy were not seen. They were both reported to be tired but uninjured.

“A strong family and friend response, accompanied by local and state resources helped bring this search to a positive conclusion. It also illustrates the dangers of hiking unfamiliar areas and being prepared if something does happen,” said Undersheriff Pat Bond.