• Two teens die in hiking accident near North Bend

    By: Terra Sullivan


    NORTH BEND, Wash. - Two teenage hikers from Federal Way died after falling from rocks near a waterfall east of North Bend overnight.


    The two were students at Christian Faith School in Federal Way.  The school is issued this statement Monday morning:

    "Deeply tragic event has happen at CFS. Andrew Lusink and Ben Skagen died in hiking accident last night. Pastors will be available all day today. Please pray for the Lusink and Skagen families."


    Deputies received a 911 call about two injured hikers who had fallen off of a large rock near Otter Falls, a secluded area along the Tyler River, around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, the King County Sheriff's Office said.


    According to investigators, four teenaged boys -- two brothers and two friends -- had gone hiking when two of the teens, 16-year-old Lusink and 18-year-old Skagen,  attempted to climb a large rock near the falls. 


    Both teens fell and were seriously injured. One teen had a head injury while the other teen received a serious leg injury.


    One teen, 18-year-old Matthew McLinay, stayed behind with the hurt boys while Lusink's brother, 18-year-old Jeffrey Lusink,  ran to get help and was able to find three men on the trail who then performed CPR on the injured and set up a fire to keep the teens warm.  


    The boy continued running down the trail -- a total of five miles -- until he found a U.S. Forest Service employee. 


    Elmo Warren was back at the Middle Fork Campground when Jeffrey Lusink came in yelling.  He told Warren the two teenagers had fallen into the water and were severely injured.


    "His brother fell.  And he could tell he was hurt really bad," said Warren.  "They pulled them out of the water and got them out of the water.  But of course they were soaking wet and cold.  His brother was conscious, but his leg was broke clear off."


    Ben Skagen had leg and chest injuries and could barely breathe.


    Although most cellphones don't work in the area, Warren's grandson had a signal booster for his phone and called 911 .


    A search and rescue team was established, but with no cellphone service in the area, crews weren't able to reach the teens until sometime overnight.


    Jeffrey Lusink waited below in shock, worried about his brother. 


    "He could still talk part of the time, but then part of the time he just kind of kept quiet," said Warren.


    "This is a very tragic situation," said Sheriff's Sgt. Cindi West. "There is no cell service in the area so it is likely that the Forest Service employee had to drive down the mountain to call 911."


     When the search and rescue teams reached the teens, they had already died as a result of their injuries.  


    Andrew Lusink was a junior at Christian Faith School.     The other victim, Skagen, graduated from the school last year.


    On Monday, school staff members placed flowers at the sign at the front of the school.   


    The school invited students and parents to an assembly Monday morning for prayer where Andrew Lusink's aunt and uncle who told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Michelle Millman that  he was a remarkable young man with a deep faith.


    "They were smart but I guess lost their footing or something. They were wise boys.  They weren't mischevious or anything, they just loved life and so we just couldn't believe it," said Lusink's aunt, Tracy Smith.


    "He chose his friends very wisely.  (They were) both people that were smart and people that were caring and loving, and so he couldn't have had any better people around him at that time. So, I don't know what happened, but he had the right people around him," said Lusink's uncle, Joel Smith.


    Tracy and Joel Smith said the other victim, Ben Skagen,  played soccer and was a very funny young man.


    "Ben was a three-sport athlete for us playing soccer, basketball and MVP of the track team. (He) also raced motorcross, loved the outdoors and went hiking and camping with friends often," said the Christian Faith School's Athletic Director and Business Manager Stephanie Pond.


    Pond said Lusink was a soccer player, Jonah camp volunteer, ASB Chaplain and had "zeal for life, lived full out with no regrets."


    The Smiths said they weren't surprised the boys were out hiking together  because they loved adventure.


    Donations are being accepted at any branch of Wells Fargo Bank under Andrew Lusink Memorial  Benjamin Skagen Memorial.


    Formal memorial services are expected to happen in the days to come at Christian Faith Center, where both families are members.





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