Sheriff: Search temporarily suspended for missing JBLM soldier

Photo courtesy Mason County Sheriff’s Office

MASON COUNTY, Wash. — First responders and JBLM personnel have temporarily suspended the search for a JBLM soldier who went missing while hiking with a friend Sunday afternoon.

According to Ryan Spurling, a chief criminal deputy for the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, the soldier and his friend were hiking Sunday afternoon near the High Steel Bridge and got separated while they were both taking pictures. The sheriff’s office has not released the missing soldier’s name yet, as authorities are still trying to contact his family out of state.

Spurling said they released the photo in case the soldier bumped his head somewhere and wanders into a local store so people might recognize him.

The sheriff’s office said late Monday afternoon that search efforts have been “temporarily suspended,” because of narrow canyons and high water.

“Evidence suggests our he fell from the cliffs into the river,” the sheriff’s office said on Twitter. “We searched the entire river from the bridge to the Hood Canal with a Helo. Narrow canyons and high water prohibits more searching until the water goes down.”

His friend lost track of him and was unable to find the soldier again Sunday afternoon.

Spurling said there's no sign of foul play. There is some physical evidence, but investigators have declined to release what was found.

The sheriff's office said that more than 150 soldiers conducted a ground search of the area, and dogs were used as well.

Searchers are rappelling into the canyon, and the helicopter and drone are flying above, Spurling said.

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