Letters | Look, Mom, there’s a body in the dugout
July 17, 2012 · 1:47 PM
Here in the Snoqualmie Valley, we’re well versed in the need for search-and-rescue missions. It’s a necessity of living, working and playing this close to the wilderness.
However, it is time to find a new staging area for search-and-rescue missions into the Central Cascade wilderness areas.
Torguson Park is a very busy community park—six different activities besides just hanging out in the shade of a tree and staring at Mount Si are available here.
During the latest incident, the Valley was enjoying some of the best weather we’ve had all year. For days, there was no access allowed to this community space. It was handed over to search-and-rescue crews, up to three helicopters, K-9 units and a fuel truck.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. last Monday, July 9, once the sad news came down from the mountain that the missing hiker had lost his life; a body bag was unloaded out of a search-and-rescue helicopter at Torguson Park. But, no ambulance or other appropriate vehicle to transport the deceased was anywhere in sight. They put the body in the first-base dugout of Torguson’s Majors field, where many a family’s children play, including the Challenger League.
It was nearly another two hours before the body was moved out of that dugout and transported out of the park, and it was unclear who finally took care of things.
I can appreciate that the authorities on the scene were trying to keep the body private from the sensation-seeking eyes of the media. It’s easy to imagine that there was some sort of lag in the chain of custody for the body. But, a kid’s playing field?
There are protocols, rules, and laws about how to handle a body. The handling of this hiker’s remains seemed very mismanaged, not to mention poorly placed.
This is not to take anything away from the crews who volunteer, or whose occupation it is to participate in these missions. They are a rare breed and helped to bring closure to the hiker’s family by finding him and retrieving his remains. However, the bottom line is that Torguson Park is a place for community. It is not a place for emergency operations.
It’s easy to think of several other places that would be better as a staging area in times of search-and-rescue operations, which would not impact residents and homes and our children. The fire-training center off I-90’s Exit 38, where they also train emergency response personnel, for instance, is a good candidate. However, that’s only just one option.
It’s time for our leaders in North Bend, King County, and search-and-rescue to make sure this happens.