If you heard helicopters over the Snoqualmie Valley on Friday, January 1, 2016, it was the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Guardian 1 responding to a search and rescue mission on Granite Mountain, about 15 miles east of North Bend near I-90 exit 47.
64-year Doug Walker went missing on Thursday, December 31st while hiking with friends. According to KCSO Sergeant Cindi West, Walker was very experienced and well-equipped for the hiking excursion.
KCSO said the group of friends had been hiking together when Walker became separated. His friends called police around 5PM New Year’s Eve last when he did not show up at the trailhead.
About 60 search and rescue members from the King County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Unit, Seattle Mountain Rescue, Everett Mountain Rescue, Olympic Mountain Rescue, Snohomish County Search and Rescue, King County 4×4 Search and Rescue and King County Guardian 1, searched for the man all night
Unfortunately, around 11:30AM January 1st, KCSO stated that Walker was found deceased. He was located in a debris field about two miles up the mountain just before 10:30AM.
Search members believe he may have been caught in an avalanche due to being found in a debris field consistent with an avalanche. King County SAR leaders said it will take a group of team members about four hours to bring him down the mountain.
Walker is descried as a civic leader. King County Executive Dow Constantine mourned Walker’s loss and released this statement:
“We’ve lost a great civic leader, conservationist, and philanthropist who had a passion for the outdoors, and instilled that same passion in others. Doug brought a boundless energy to everything he tackled, from climbing the highest peaks to connecting the high-tech community to environmental preservation. My thoughts are with his wife Maggie and their daughter Kina.”
The King County Search and Rescue Unit has had five search and rescue calls over the last few days. They want to remind people who are backcountry hiking or skiing to be aware of avalanche dangers and to be properly dressed and well equipped to spend the night if necessary.