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Searchers find body of missing hunter in Skamania County

November 15, 2011

By John Branton and Paul Suarez, Columbian.com

A small army of searchers looked for a missing hunter in Gifford Pinchot National Forest for three days, but it was a helicopter crew who caught a break in the weather Tuesday morning and spotted the body of the man who had been missing since Friday.

According to a Skamania County Sheriff’s Office release, a private helicopter crew found the body of David Sherwood, 56, of Onalaska on the side of a steep ravine in the Ryan Lake area around 11:30 a.m.

With the arrival of better weather and visibility Tuesday morning, “We were blessed with a window of opportunity,” said Undersheriff Dave Cox. He said the sheriff’s office hired a helicopter crew from Boring, Ore.

Sherwood’s body was found below his pickup, indicating it’s possible he fell into the ravine, Cox said. The cause of death hadn’t been determined Tuesday evening.

A second helicopter, sent in from the north, and sheriff’s personnel recovered the body after an hourlong effort, Cox said.

The remote area, in the Green River drainage, is so rugged that loggers in the past had to use helicopters to hoist logs up to the roads, Cox said.

Sherwood had gone elk hunting Friday morning and was scheduled to return home Friday evening. His pickup was found midday Saturday near the end of a spur road off Forest Service 2612 in the Gifford Pinchot, Cox said.

More than 70 family, friends and search personnel had combed the area since Saturday looking for Sherwood, Cox said.

“These past few days have been difficult for those involved in the search effort, including the family and friends of Mr. Sherwood,” said Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown. “Our efforts were challenged by both the terrain and the weather. We are grateful for all the assistance provided by the community of Onalaska, the family of Mr. Sherwood and the volunteer search and rescue teams from the region.”

Cox said Sherwood was a “solid citizen” and “well-liked member of the Onalaska community.”

Onalaska is south of Chehalis and east of Interstate 5 in Lewis County.

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