Body of Climber Recovered - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

12/18/06

Body of Climber Recovered

The body of the hiker found in a snow cave has now been removed from Mount Hood and identified by grieving family members. "The climber found yesterday was my brother, my brother Kelly.  It is a major blow to the family of Kelly James and to rescue workers who have been searching for a week," said Frank James.

"We failed 'em, we failed em but we tried our best," said Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler.  Authorities now believe that the three friends spent a night together in the snow cave and then Hall and Cooke left the next day to get help. When the weather worsened they dug a second snow cave. It is feared they may have then headed to a treacherous side of the mountain that is full of gullies.

The weather is favorable today, but that area is prone to avalanches allows searching only by air.

Chris Bernard with USFA said, "We have a great search area that we are going to scour today."

While Kelley James had made a cellphone call over a week ago, in an ominous sign, the other two hikers have not been heard from since.

"We wish the rescue workers god speed in their ongoing efforts to bring Brian and Jerry down the mountain safely," Frank James said.

"We hold our hope for Brian and Nikko's safe return," added Michaela Cooke, wife of Jerry Nikko Cooke.

The Hood River county sheriffs suspects the two had a terrible accident when they tried to leave the mountain. Still, he holds out hope that they will be found alive.

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