Body of missing elk hunter found in southwest Washington

Deputies find body of hunter missing for two weeks in southwest Washington.

STEVENSON, Wash. -- Deputies on Friday found the body of a 37-year-old Vancouver elk hunter who went missing in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest two weeks ago.

Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown said deputies, with help from Silver Star Search and Rescue, found Joel Presler's body near where his truck was parked.

Brown said nothing was located to indicate anything suspicious about Presler's death.

Presler last made contact with his family on Nov. 11. Authorities found his pickup truck on Nov. 15 on a Forest Service road in the Forlorn Lakes area. Nearly three feet of snow has piled up alongside Presler's truck and more snow has fallen at higher elevations. The search by the sheriff's office was suspended on Nov. 18.

Warmer temperatures this week resulted in snow melting, which uncovered items associated with Presler that led deputies to finding his body, Brown said.

"Last week when we were up there, we were in three to four feet of snow looking for him. Yesterday, there was 18-22 inches," Brown said.

When he went missing, Presler was reported to have been in good health and to have hunted in the area for years. 

An autopsy will be conducted by the Clark County medical examiner's office. An investigation is ongoing.

"There is still a lot of questions I think right now," said Brown. "There are a lot of things pointing to the fact that he was a bit disoriented perhaps, even though he came back towards the truck. There are a lot of indicators of someone who may have been suffering a little bit from hypothermia."

© 2017 KGW-TV


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