Kootenai County officials will continue to search for missing hunter, Edward Hempel, through the night.
Hempel was last seen Monday afternoon when his hunting partner dropped him off near Bernard Peak, a “rugged mountainous” area, according to a release from KCSO.
“We’ll keep it going, we have a 24 hour a day operation,” said Jeff Burns, a Kootenai County backcountry deputy. “Obviously we scale back a little bit at night because the terrain up there is pretty rugged.”
Over the past two days, KCSO has searched for him extensively, with help from Spokane County’s Air 1, the US Air Force’s 36th Rescue Squadron out of Fairchild Air Force Base, and the US Border Patrol’s air assets.
As of Wednesday afternoon, about 40 dedicated searchers were looking for Hempel, though the terrain is very steep, thickly wooded and full of downed trees and brush. It has slowed their search efforts, according to KCSO.
Hempel’s ex-wife and mother of his two daughters said she went out to search for him on an ATV when KREM 2 spoke with her Wednesday.
“It’s really tough for all of us right now. He’s a good guy,” said Pam Hempel. “We’re asking for prayers. And anyone that’s seen him, please report to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. Help us find him.”
Hemple's family is not giving up in their search. They say he is loved and missed. Has two grown daughters. pic.twitter.com/ZUfc6OJlMr— Taylor Viydo (@KREMTaylor) October 12, 2016
Officials said they have enough volunteers looking for Hempel and are “amply supplied with food and water.”
Hempel’s church even brought dinner to the scene for the searchers. Hempel is from Post Falls.
KCSO said the search will continue into the night, until it becomes too dangerous due to light and terrain for them to keep looking for the missing hunter.
“We don’t want to put any volunteers in jeopardy to have them out there after dark,” said Burns.
Officials told KREM 2 they plan to have searchers in the evening driving on the Forest Service roads calling out for Hempel just to be sure.
Officials said if they don’t find Hempel tonight, they will scale back for the evening and resume early Thursday morning.
Though Hempel had not been hunting in many years, according to his ex-wife, he is familiar with the woods.
“He knows how to stay put until he’s found,” said Pam Hempel. “Start a fire if he needs it. Bottom line is, I’m worried he’s hurt and that’s why we haven’t found him.”
KCSO said it is hard to gauge how long they will search for the missing hunter. Burns said similar searches in the past have gone on for about a week before they began to scale back their efforts.
(© 2016 KREM)