Hikers urged to prepare better amid surge in search and rescue missions


ISSAQUAH, Wash. - More unprepared hikers are heading into the mountains, causing a dramatic rise in the number of rescue and recovery missions conducted by King County Search and Rescue, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reported.


In 2011, there were four recovery missions to retrieve bodies of people who died in the mountains.  In 2012, that number jumped to 18, said reporter David Ham.


Rescuers told Ham the biggest issue is hikers who are unprepared.


"They go up in there even though they're way over their heads," said Deputy Ed Christian.


Rescues can also be very costly, especially when helicopters like a Huey are involved.


The bills are footed by taxpayers.


Yen Flanagin is an experienced hiker who says unprepared hikers should pay.


"The people, they have to pay for it after we rescue them. That's only fair for the taxpayer," Flagagin said.


But others said that charging for rescues could put even more lives in danger.


The King County Sheriff's Department doesn't keep track of rescue costs, but says a lot of help comes from volunteers.


National Parks Services said it spent about $5.3 million on 3,697 rescues in 2011.


Both the National Parks Service and the King Count y Sheriff's Office don't charge for rescues, and say they never plan to.


They ask that people prepare before embarking on a mountain adventure.


"Most of them didn't have to happen shouldn't have happened."


Deputies say hikers need to dress appropriately for the mountains: Stay away from cotton, and always leave a trip schedule with someone before you head out.