Two teen hikers die after fall near North Bend

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 17, 2012 at 6:28 AM

Updated Monday, Sep 17 at 11:17 PM

SEATTLE  -- Two teenage boys, ages 18 and 16, died Sunday during a hike in the mountains east of Seattle after falling from rocks near a water fall.

The boys were identified Monday as Ben Skagen, 18, a recent graduate of the Christian Faith School in Federal Way; and Andrew Lusink, a 16-year-old student at the same school.

Skagen and Lusink were with two other boys who had gone hiking to Otter Falls in the Snoqualmie National Forest when the two climbed the rocks near the falls and fell about 100 feet. One of the boys fell first and the second fell moments later when he looked back at what had happened, the King County Sheriff's office said Monday.

"Andrew went first, and slipped and ended up falling a hundred feet into the water,” says his father Rich Lusink.  “And Ben ended up saying ‘Hey what are you guys doing?’ and ended up coming down, he slipped as well.”

After the fall, one of the other boys ran for help and came upon two hikers who went to the site to help. The boy continued running down the trail -- a total of about 5 miles -- until he found a U.S. Forest Service employee.

"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.”

The boy who ran was the brother of one of the boys who had fallen. The group was made up of three 18-year-olds and the 16-year-old, West said.

The Lusinks say their older son held their younger son in his last moments of consciousness.

“Like every parent, you wonder what was talked about, what was expressed, and what thoughts that he had to deal with,” says Rich Lusink.

The two hikers who went to help stayed with the injured boys, built a fire and performed CPR on the two boys when they stopped breathing, West said. By the time rescue teams reached the boys Sunday night, they had died.
 
“That he has that memory of his brother in his arms as his last memory so hard to picture,” says their mother, Laurie Lusink. “But he has it.”
 
West estimated that it was at least one hour after the boys had fallen before the call for aid was made, which came in around 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

King County personnel were mobilized, with rescue crews hiking in as well as some rappelling down from a helicopter from Snohomish County.

The boys' bodies had been retrieved Monday morning, West said.
 
The Lusinks talk about what they’ll miss about their son.
 
"He always would come in at night and give us a hug and say ‘I love you. I'll see you in the morning,’” says Rich Lusink. "You want to hear his voice, you want to hear him say ‘I love you.’”
 
School in mourning

The teens were being remembered in messages on a poster at Christian Faith School.

"See you in heaven, RIP guys," wrote one student. "You were a light and left a legacy behind," says another.

They are sentiments echoed by everyone here, including principal Tom Puddy.

"I just met with all of our elementary students. And I said how many knew Andrew and how many of you had Adrew say hi to you? And every single one of them raised their hands," he said.

Andrew Lusink was a high school junior-- a camp counselor and Christian missionary who was also the school chaplain.

"Full of energy, full of life, full of fun. Always would say hi. Very confident," said Puddy.

Ben Skagen had just graduated and planned on joining the Marines. He was a standout track star - the school team's MVP.

Puddy called them both born leaders. Good friends who prayed together, played soccer together, hiked together. Two guys who were bigger than life.

"When I heard about it I said I lost a hero today. I lost a 16- and 18-year-old hero."

"They made an impact on my life and everyone's life around here and I'll never forget them and neither will the kids here. They made an impact wherever they went," said Puddy.

Details of the memorial are still pending. Services for both boys will be held at Christian Faith Center.

 

 

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