Entries in Park Ranger (3)


Mount Rainier Ranger Falls to Death Trying to Save Climbers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LONGMIRE, Wash.) -- A climbing ranger fell to his death Thursday afternoon while he was trying to extract four injured climbers off of Mt. Rainier in Washington state.

Nick Hall, 34, plummeted over 3,000 feet as a military helicopter assisted in the rescue.

"We were in the process of effecting that extrication with the help of a Chinook helicopter from Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord when one of our climbing rangers Nick Hall fell," said Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher.

Hall, who was an experienced climber and had been a ranger for four years, was unresponsive after the fall.  When rescue teams reached him, he was already dead, Bacher said.

"We're stunned. This is.. this is absolutely the worst possible outcome," Bacher said.

Three of the injured climbers have since been removed from the mountain, but one remains there along with two other climbing rangers as they wait for a storm to pass.  Once the weather clears up, rescuers can safely go back in to extract them.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Body of Mt. Rainier Shooting Suspect Found

Purestock/Getty Images(ASHFORD, Wash.) -- The man suspected of killing a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state apparently has died from exposure to the elements, according to police.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said Monday night the body they had located earlier in the day face-down in the snow without any identification is Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, the sole suspect in Sunday's shooting.

"We found his body.  His body has been recovered," Troyer said.  "He died of conditions, there's no obvious sign of death other than being really cold on a mountain all night in freezing water."

"He was wearing T-shirt, a pair of jeans and one tennis shoe.  That was it," he said.

Barnes was being tracked by ground and aerial search crews for the shooting death of 34-year-old ranger Margaret Anderson, who tried to block his path when Barnes sped past a checkpoint in the park Sunday morning.  Barnes fired shots at Anderson and another ranger before fleeing into the park's wilderness.  The other ranger was not injured.

Shortly before the discovery of the body, police said they had been honing in on Barnes' location by following his footprints in chest-deep snow.  Authorities said he had some survival training and appeared to be moving in and out of river beds to avoid being followed.  Police said they did not know whether he had enough supplies to continue outpacing them.

More than 100 agents from the National Park Service, state police, FBI and local sheriff's departments had descended on the park to help the search efforts.

Authorities had gathered 125 campers who were in the park Sunday into a visitors center, where they were held under police watch overnight.  The visitors were evacuated in the dark early Monday morning.  Three small groups of hikers who were making an ascent of the mountain remained in the park.

Barnes is a military veteran who has a history of criminal violence, including threatening the mother of his child with guns during a bitter custody battle, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mt. Rainier Park Shooting: Suspect Still on Lam

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash.) -- Park rangers and FBI agents at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State evacuated 125 campers who were held overnight Sunday during the search for a gunman suspected of killing a park ranger.

The campers were gathered in a visitor's center at the park after the shooting death of ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, in the park Sunday morning. Police say that military veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, is a "strong person of interest" in the shooting and is being sought by police in the park.

Barnes, who has a history of criminal violence, is suspected of shooting four other people before entering the park Sunday and speeding past a check point. Anderson and another ranger blocked the road in front of Barnes, who allegedly fired the shots that killed Anderson, according to Pierce County Sheriff spokesman Ed Troyer.

Anderson was a married mother of two daughters, ages 2 and 4.

Police found Barnes' vehicle, which had weapons and body armor inside, Troyer told ABC News affiliate KOMO.

The visitors were escorted by police to the exit of the park under the cover of darkness around 4 a.m. Monday morning. They spent the night in the visitor's center, which had food and water but no cots, pillows or sleeping bags. They were taken to a fire house outside of the park upon their evacuation.

Police have been searching the snowy park since early Sunday, using infrared radar, aircraft and ground units to try and track the suspect. Lee Taylor, a spokeswoman for the park, said 111 law enforcement officers from the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Washington State Patrol, FBI, and Pierce and Louis counties are assisting in the search.

Barnes is also a suspect in the early Sunday morning shooting of four people at a house party in Skyway, Wash., police said. Two people were critically injured in the shooting.

Barnes has a violent past and previously threatened the mother of his child with guns during a bitter custody battle, according to court documents obtained by ABC News. Police also released photos showing him with weapons and tattoos reading "pride, envy, gluttony and lust."

Barnes has four years of military service, according to police, and is considered a survivalist with outdoor skills. Police told KOMO that Barnes' tracks appear to go into creeks and other waterways in the park, making it more difficult for crews to track him; a purposeful, tactical move, Pierce County's Troyer said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio