2nd UPDATE — Missing father found uninjured in Queets area. He had disappeared while looking for his daughter, a missing hunter who was found earlier.

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THIS UPDATE from Joe Nole, chief criminal deputy at the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office:

On 11-07-12, at approximately 12:34 p.m., searchers located Kevin Merritt on the banks of the Queets River, about six miles northeast of the Search and Rescue base camp located at the Queets campground.

Kevin was transported by jet boat to the Queets Campground and his awaiting family. Kevin was in good condition and required no medical attention.

Here's our earlier story

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
FORKS — A hunter who was missing overnight was found safe Tuesday in West Jefferson County, but one searcher, the hunter's father, was still unaccounted for as of Wednesday morning, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

About 20 searchers shifted their search for Amy Merritt, 21, of Arlington, and began searching for Kevin Merritt, 47, also of Arlington, who had been searching for his daughter ahead of the Jefferson County Search and Rescue teams.

The elder Merritt is believed to be still looking for his daughter, unaware that she has been found, said Joe Nole, chief criminal deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

“Our goal is to catch up to him,” Nole said.

Amy Merritt was reported missing Monday at about 8:20 p.m. after she did not return from what was expected to be a three-hour elk hunt

Merritt's plans were to travel down a drainage between two Olympic National Forest roads and meet her mother at about 10 a.m.

But she sent a cell phone text message to her mother to let her know that she would be late, Nole said.

When Merritt did not show up by 8 p.m., the sheriff's department was notified.

She was not believed to be equipped for an overnight stay in the woods.

Searchers from Jefferson County Search and Rescue, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, the Coast Guard, the Hoh Nation and the state departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife looked for her.
Kevin Merritt joined the search, and began following her tracks ahead of the search teams, Nole said.

She was found at 6 p.m. Tuesday by an MH-60 helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria, Ore., on a Queets River sand bar about 13 miles from where she began her hunting trip, and about nine miles fom Yahoo Lake, he said.
She was flown to Forks to be reunited with her mother.

Nole said Merritt had traveled in the opposite direction of the area where she was supposed to meet her mother, he said.

He did not know why she went in that direction.

When searchers attempted to contact Kevin Merritt, he did not respond, Nole said.

The elder Merritt had not been heard from since before the Coast Guard found Amy Merritt he said.

The last contact with Merrit was from a Coast Guard helicopter, Nole said, and the crew of the helicopter said that he seemed to be well-equipped for the search.

Searchers believe Merritt's radio batteries died, and he does not know that his daughter has been found, he said.

“He may think he is only 10 minutes behind her,” Nole said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 07. 2012 6:13PM
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