Volunteer rescuer killed at Pilchuck Falls identified


by JOHN LANGELER / KING 5 News & Associated Press


Posted on June 29, 2014 at 4:25 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 29 at 11:27 PM

SEDRO-WOOLLEY, Wash. - Family members have identified a rescue volunteer killed trying to save another man at Pilchuck Falls as 62-year-old JB Bryson.

Skagit County authorities say the hiker also died Saturday night. Another person was rescued.

Bryson, a well-known figure in the Sedro-Woolley community, joined Skagit County Search and Rescue just eight months ago,.

"This was his dream job," said Bryson's oldest daughter Kelli Bowden, "He wanted to play in the woods professionally."

Bryson worked for a Sedro-Woolley realty company, but was also heavily involved in events around the area, including the upcoming Fourth of July events.

He also loved the outdoors, and his best friend Chet Griffith recalled spending countless days in the Washington wilderness.

"That's another reason he wanted to join Search and Rescue," said Griffith, "He wanted to help."

Griffith said he was a major reason Bryson joined Search and Rescue, because he works there too.  Both men were at Pilchuck Falls Saturday night.

Griffith did not want to talk about the incident.

"I will let you know it's been a difficult day," he said reluctantly.

"It's the abruptness," said Bowden, "The abruptness of seeing him at 5:30, and then, not.  Ever.  It's difficult."

The accident happened about 36 miles northwest of Seattle when two men were separated from their hiking group and tried to make their way down to the falls near Lake Cavanaugh.
A Skagit County Search and Rescue team was training nearby and responded to their call for help. A 61-year-old volunteer fell and died as he tried to reach the two men.
On Sunday, authorities recovered the bodies of two men who died Saturday night at Pilchuck Falls. The name of the first victim have not been released.
Pilchuck Falls is 14 feet high and 60 feet wide in a steep ravine, according to the website AaronsWaterfallWorld.com, which tracks conditions at waterfalls in Western Washington. According to the website, the trail involves using a series of ropes to get to the bottom.