Wash. searchers wait to seek avalanche victim

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 15, 2013 at 11:38 pm •  Published: April 15, 2013
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SEATTLE (AP) — Dangerous conditions Monday prevented rescuers from searching for a hiker who was caught in an avalanche over the weekend in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle.

The hiker's wife, Marilynn Hungate, identified him to KING-TV as Mitch Hungate, 61, a dentist and seasoned athlete.

He was with two other companions Saturday afternoon when an avalanche swept them more than 1,200 feet down Granite Mountain, a 5,600-foot peak about 45 miles east of Seattle. The two friends emerged from the snow and called for help. They tried but weren't able to find Hungate.

"The longer the time goes on, the less chance of survival," said Sgt. Cindi West with the King County Sheriff's Office.

Experts say the potential for avalanches still looks dangerous, West said Monday night, adding it could be a few days before the search can resume.

Beverly Walker, office manager at Mitch Hungate's dental office in Renton, Wash., said he loved competing in Ironman triathlons.

Marilynn Hungate, who was on the mountain waiting for news, told the television station: "I really didn't want to leave him. I want to be with him until he can be here with us."

Also Monday, the King County Medical Examiner's Office identified a woman who had been killed Saturday while snowshoeing with her dog as Joy Yu, 55. The examiner's report said Yu, who was caught on Red Mountain in a separate avalanche, suffocated under the snow.