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Body of skier found at Mount Rainier’s base can’t be recovered

The body of a 28-year-old skier has been found in a crevasse at the base of a mountain in a position too dangerous to reach by land or air – meaning he cannot be recovered.

Matthew Bunker, from Seattle, was skiing behind his partner near Thumb Rock on the north side of Mount Rainier, at about 10,400 feet, when he fell on Friday.

His body was found by National Park Service rangers at the base of Liberty Ridge, after search teams spent the last four days combing the area.

Mr Bunker was found in a crevasse at the base of a cliff that is inaccessible by ground or aviation teams. Continuous rock and ice fall means it would be too dangerous to send teams down to bring out his body. 

The veteran was one of three people to go missing over the last two weeks in separate incidents. Two hikers Talal Sabbagh, 27, and Vincent Djie, 25, are still missing.

‘We extend our deepest condolences to Matthew’s loved ones and friends,’ said Tracy Swartout, Deputy Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park. 

‘It brings us a great degree of sorrow to be unable to bring him home to his family.’ 

His parents, Carolyn and Joe Bunker, live in his hometown of Delavan, Wisconsin.

Mr Bunker graduated from West Point in 2013 and spent five years in the military. It is not known how he fell from the mountain.

MailOnline has contacted National Park Service for comment. 

The National Park Service used A-Star B3 helicopter, with Mount Rainier National Park climbing rangers aboard during the airborne search.

Over the weekend the helicopter crew were faced with severe downslope winds and clouds. 

Clear skies yesterday, along with a change in wind strength and direction, allowed the park helicopter and climbing rangers to fly close enough to the mountain long enough to see the body.

Meanwhile, Mr Sabbagh, from Seattle, was reported missing on Monday, June 22. He was last seen in hiking in Paradise on Sunday, June 21, 2020. Rangers found his car in the parking lot at Paradise.

He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt under a black jacket, black shorts, and dark Nike shoes.  

People were warned to stay away from the area because dangerous late spring conditions, including widespread unstable snow bridges over creeks put independent searchers at risk. 

A spokesman said: ‘Falling through thin snow bridges is a hazard anywhere streams remain snow-covered and may potentially cause new incidents, in addition to possibly obscuring important clues to Sabbah’s whereabouts. 

‘These accidents with independent search parties would divert professional search teams from existing searches.’

Mr Djie, an Indonesian student who has been living in Seattle, was last seen Friday, June 19, at 3pm hiking the Van Trump Trail toward Mildred Point. 

Djie failed to return home on June 19 and was reported missing to the Pierce County Sherriff’s Office. 

On Monday, June 22, a ‘Be On The Look Out’ or BOLO was issued by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office for Djie’s vehicle which was found at Longmire, within Mount Rainier National Park.

Djie was wearing black pants, and a blue and white tie dye shirt, and carrying a small drawstring-type bag.

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