After four days of looking for missing Florida skydiver Kurt Ruppert, searchers returned home Sunday night as the King County Sheriff's Office suspended the search in the Mt. Si area, saying they have covered all the areas that could be reached on foot.
The King County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release that over the last four days, 386 volunteers from 19 different agencies have searched an area approximately 9 square miles for the missing man. The sheriff’s office helicopter also spent three days searching from the air. Searchers also extensively searched a quarter-mile square area that they said was a “potential” area based on cell phone and the helicopter flight path data.
The sheriff’s office said cliff areas remain that could not be searched due to the extreme risk to searchers. The sheriff’s office said it will search those areas by helicopter when weather permits.
Todd Stone, vice chairman of the experienced climbers who make up the Seattle Mountain Rescue volunteers, said the teams out Sunday, which included searchers from Everett, Tacoma and Olympia mountain rescue teams, planned to focus on a remote area on the back side of Mt. Si that was inaccessible by helicopter. Search areas had been developed through radar analysis and cell phone tracking data, Stone said.
Glenn Wallace, a spokesman for the nonprofit King County Search and Rescue Association, which coordinates search efforts in such situations, told Patch searchers had hoped Ruppert used his parachute to construct a shelter or snow cave.
However, Wallace said searchers had no idea what condition Ruppert was in when he landed after jumping from a parachute, and he wasn't planning on spending several cold nights on Mt. Si.
Wallace said it appears Ruppert had "a knife and relatively thin suit and long underwear." The most critical question, Wallace said, is what kind of condition Ruppert was in when he came down.
"His family says he's very strong. Some people come out after three, four, five days," Wallace said, adding, "Each day that goes by we are more concerned."
Wallace said that King County Search and Rescue teams search for as long as they are asked to continue by King County.
"No matter who or where we don’t like not finding pople," Wallace said, noting that of 117 missions last year, there were few people searchers didn't locate.
King County Search and Rescue is all volunteer and donor funded, Wallace said. Though the King County Sheriff's Office provides a truck and helicopter, most of the equipment searchers use is funded by private donations. You can donate tot the association through its website.
For more coverage of the seach see previous Patch stories.