SKAMANIA COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
This is an update on the three search and rescue operations conducted last week in northern Skamania County.
“The search for Kristopher Zitzewitz, 31, of Portland, Ore., was suspended Oct. 5 pending any further leads as to his whereabouts,” said Undersheriff Dave Cox. “We had over 100 people working to locate him today and unfortunately found nothing.”
Search operations utilized ground vehicles, motorcycles, and K9 teams to provide a concerted effort in the Big Lava Beds area approximately 10 miles north of Cook, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest searching for Zitzewitz.
“We are very thankful to all of the SAR professionals that have come out to assist us this past week. Their efforts in this extremely rugged and dangerous terrain have been exemplary We are all very disappointed that we could not provide some closure for the family.”
On Friday, Oct. 4, an extensive aerial search by the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office utilizing a helicopter from J and L Aviation out of Boring, Ore., did not provide any substantial leads as to his location. “We flew treetop level looking in crevasses and tree wells on the lava beds” said Undersheriff Cox. “It is extremely frustrating that we have been unable to locate Mr Zitzewitz.”
The command post for the search was located at Goose Lake Campground on the US Forest Service Road 60, west of Trout Lake.
Search operations concluded on Oct. 1 with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter hoisting Matt Margiotta and his hiking partner, Kyla Arnold, to safety from their location on the Pacific Crest Trail north of Trout Lake. Margiotta reported at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 30 that they were in snow and may have to be rescued. The pair had been hiking the PCT from Mexico and were trying to go to Canada. Searchers attempted to reach the two but had to turn back within three-quarters of a mile to the couple as they faced waist deep snow and failing daylight. The Coast Guard helicopter, out of Air Station Astoria, Ore., was able to reach the pair and transported them, along with the Thurston County SAR team to Portland Internat-ional Airport. There was no known medical assistance required.
As of Oct. 3, search operations by Skamania County concluded for Alejandra Wilson, 23, who was reportedly hiking north on the Pacific Crest Trail and was overdue in contacting her father. (Wilson was located Saturday, Oct. 5, and hiked safely out of the forest.)
At 11:51 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, Dane Wilson reported his daughter as overdue and had last talked with her on Friday at 3 p.m. as she was leaving Trout Lake for White Pass on the PCT.
“An extensive aerial search of the PCT within Skamania County today (Oct. 3) by the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Astoria provided no evidence that Ms. Wilson is still in Skamania County at this time” said Undersheriff Dave Cox. “I was onboard the aircraft today, and the aircrew did an absolutely outstanding job of covering all of the areas of the PCT within Skamania County, including areas off the trail as well. We found absolutely no trace of Ms. Wilson’s presence in our county” he said.
“The efforts of all of our SAR volunteers over the past several days has been exemplary,” said Cox. “We are also very grateful for the cooperation and professionalism of the U.S. Coast Guard crew and the coordination efforts of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and the Washington Department of Emergency Management in bringing Matt and Kyla home safely” he said.