Rescuer who died at Pilchuck Falls: ‘He was somebody who gave back always’

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brysonPILCHUCK FALLS, Wash — Family and friends are remembering a search-and-rescue volunteer who died trying to save another man who fell at Pilchuck Falls in Skagit County Saturday night.

The Skagit County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue team, along with Snohomish County Sheriff deputies responded to the report of two people in need of rescue at the Falls, near Lake Cavanaugh.

The Skagit Sheriff’s office reported that a group of four people were together on a logging road near the falls, when two of them tried to work their way down towards the falls.  One of the people, a 25-year-old man later identified as Peder Trettevik, fell approximately 100 feet.

The man’s partner tried to reach the fallen man, but could not rescue the man. Another man who climbed back up in an effort to call for help, also became stuck on the cliff.

A search-and-rescue volunteer group just happened to be training in the same area and immediately responded to the area to assist in a rescue.  The volunteer group deployed and one of the volunteers, a 62-year-old man later identified as JB Bryson, fell. The sheriff’s office said he was helping clear the area of brush and trees when he fell.

Both Trettevik and Bryson died.

Kelli Bowden, Bryson’s daughter, said of her father, “He was a very capable and experienced man. He grew up here, he was born and raised in Sedro-Woolley and he just felt like he was home in the woods.”

After retiring from the local post office, Bryson —  a husband, father and grandfather — decided he wanted to make a difference and take on a new challenge.

With his lifelong knowledge of the Skagit County woods, and with eight months of search and rescue training under his belt, the 62-year-old was pursuing a lifelong dream — volunteering for the county search and rescue.

“He was somebody who gave back always,” Bryson said, “in everything he did. He was involved in so many things but this was a very direct, literally, a helping hand,” Bowden said.

She said her family’s thoughts and prayers are also with the other victim, the man her dad was trying to save

“This is an impossible situation and the abruptness of it is startling,” she siad. “I just hope that they know we’re not angry and accidents are accidents.”








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