On Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, at approximately 7:31 p.m., the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office received a report that a hiker had become lost on the Lava Canyon Trail, located at the end of the USFS 83 road, 18 miles east of Cougar.
Avery Jackson, 19, of Kelso, called the Sheriff’s Office to report her hiking partner, Garrett Canada, 18, of Kelso missing. She reported they had become separated after she stopped to take pictures. She told dispatchers she hiked the trail system and was unable to locate Canada. She waited at the car and asked several hikers if they’d seen him to no avail. She was able to find a ride to Cougar, where she called for assistance.
A Search & Rescue deputy was dispatched, and a full description was obtained. Upon the deputy’s arrival, Canada’s vehicle was still parked in the trailhead parking lot. The Volcano Rescue Team responded to the scene to begin a search. At approximately 2:58 a.m. on Oct. 16, rescue teams reported finding indications he may have entered the water at some point near or just past the first waterfall.
Search teams exited the field at approximately 5:30 a.m. to rest and then resumed searching shortly thereafter. Additional VRT responded and began searching the areas in and around all three waterfalls, to include the trail system up from Smith Creek, with negative results.
On Oct. 17, 2018, the search resumed at 8:00 a.m. with the VRT and members of the Skamania County Dive/Rescue Team and additional evidence found supported a water-related incident. The search for Canada was unsuccessful.
On Oct. 28, 2018, the sheriff’s office requested air support from JL Aviation out of Boring, Ore., and the use of a drone from the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s office spotters were used in the helo and a SAR deputy worked with the Cowlitz operators to ensure areas of concern were covered thoroughly. No signs of Canada were discovered.
“The Lava Canyon area is very dangerous if you travel off the trail and our office has investigated several fatal falls in the area. The pools near each fall are difficult to navigate and the water flow is consistent throughout the year,” said SCSO Undersheriff Pat Bond.
On the afternoon of Oct. 18, 2018, after the flights, the search mission was suspended.
“Our office and the Volcano Rescue Team will continue to monitor the area and the family is continuing the search as well, coordinating with our office to ensure their safety as well,” Bond said.