Teenage hikers rescued in Alpine Lakes area

by: Jeff Dubois Updated:

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SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. - Two Snohomish County teens who were missing after hiking to the Mason Lake area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness were found Tuesday morning.

Ricardo Perez, an 18-year-old Kamiak High School graduate from Edmonds, and Brian Chim, a 19-year-old University of Washington student from Mukilteo, left Snohomish County at 7 a.m. Sunday to hike and swim in the Mason Lake area.

The two teens did not return that night and their parents reported them as missing.

"We followed this trail for awhile, but we lost it because there was still snow," said Perez. "We had no clue how to get back."

The two teenagers had hiked 17 miles the wrong direction.

They were not prepared for more than a day hike.

Perez and Chim were both wearing shorts and only had a chocolate bar, some beef jerky and dried mango slices to eat.

They made a campfire Sunday night and tried to hike their way off the mountain on Monday, going down some steep terrain.

"I was crying like a little girl, but Brian was there and he kept me together and talked me down," Perez said.

Searchers "pinged" their cell phone Tuesday morning and triangulated the general location of the lost teenagers.

A Snohomish County Sheriff's helicopter spotted the pair waving branches, then sent the King County Sheriff's Office helicopter, Guardian One, to lift them out of the small clearing and brought to Bandera Air Field, nearby.

The search area was about 45 miles east of Seattle and west of Snoqualmie Pass up the Ira Spring Trail.

Around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, Perez posted on Twitter he was going hiking with Chim.

Prepared only for a day hike, and possibly a swim, they parked a car near the trailhead for Bandera Mountain and Mason Lake.

They last communicated by cellphone around 10:30 a.m. Sunday, presumably before moving into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, where there is no cell service.

Search efforts began early Monday with sheriff's deputies, search and rescue volunteers, and the King County Sheriff's Office Guardian Two helicopter.

The fathers of both hikers were at the command post for much of Monday.

"I'm really worried about my boy. I want help from people," Terence Chim told KIRO 7.

The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is a large area. Authorities said the trails are wide, well-used and had a lot of hikers on them during the time the two were hiking.