Volunteers from a Washougal-based search and rescue organization played a large role in helping to find the body of a Vancouver elk hunter who had been missing for more than a week.
Searchers with the Washougal-based Silver Star Search and Rescue found clothing items belonging to Joel Presler, 37, Nov. 24, in the Trout Lake area, near where Presler’s pickup truck had previously been parked.
Silver Star volunteers Rick Blevins and Laura Stockton found two pieces of Presler’s fluorescent hunter orange clothing that looked like a hoodie and a vest. They left the clothing at the site and contacted the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene, saw the clothing items and found Presler’s body after conducting a short search of the surrounding area.
Sheriff Dave Brown said there was nothing located at the scene to indicate there was anything suspicious regarding the death, and the investigation is continuing in order to understand what led to Presler’s death. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office has conducted an autopsy. The cause and manner of death are currently listed as pending.
Brown said Presler had been hunting off and on since the elk hunting season opened on Saturday, Nov. 4. Presler stayed at the Trout Lake Inn on Friday, Nov. 10, and checked out of the hotel the next day and headed to the Forlorn Lakes area, according to Brown.
Presler received assistance from a passerby on Saturday, Nov. 11, or Sunday, Nov. 12. The passerby told the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office that Presler’s vehicle, a 2004 black Ford pickup, was in a ditch in the snow, and Presler needed help. The passerby pulled the vehicle out of the ditch off Forest Road 6035 and told deputies that Presler continued up the road. That was the last known contact with Presler.
Presler’s brother, Brandon Presler, expressed his gratitude on Facebook, by thanking the volunteers who looked for Joel and offered to help the family in any way.
“It means alot to us to know that when down and out, the community is there to help out no matter what,” Brandon wrote. “Thank you all very much, and God bless and thank you for all the prayers.”
Blevins had previously searched for Presler with other Silver Star volunteers Peter Frederick and Andy Healy on snowmobiles, Thursday, Nov. 16.
Blevins, the Silver Star Search and Rescue team president and training officer, has volunteered with the non-profit organization since 1976.
He said finding a person gives closure to the family.
“Their loved one has been found,” Blevins said. “There is no mystery anymore.”
Silver Star, founded in 1963, responds to wilderness and urban emergencies and performs search and rescue missions, as requested by the Department of Emergency Management.
For information about volunteering with Silver Star Search and Rescue, call Blevins at 360-608-2920 or visit www.silverstarsar.org.