STEVENSON, Wash. -- Blunt trauma killed Kate Huether, according to the Skamania County coroner, but an autopsy was ordered Monday afternoon to reveal more specifics into how she died.
Skamania County will send the body to Clark County, where it will be examined. Peter Banks, the coroner and prosecuting attorney for Skamania, would not discuss what prompted the decision, but did say it did not come at the family's request.
Huether, 24, went missing onMarch 4 after heading out alone for a hike near Bonneville Dam. A massive search was undertaken in the wilderness surrounding Table Mountain but a week after she disappeared efforts were suspended.
Then, a father and son from Stevenson, Wash., acting on a hunch on their own drove an ATV into a steep area near Table Mountain mountain over the weekend and spotted her body, which was recovered with the help of a helicopter crew.
Huether had severe injuries to her head and torso, according to Banks, who delivered the cause-of-death statement. They were the injuries of someone who fell some 400 feet down a rock wall, he said.
Father & son on ATVs found body
James Martin, 43, said his son Tucker looked through binoculaurs and spotted Huether's blue Northface hiking jacket on Saturday, some of it smeared with mud. They quickly spotted her body after that.
Tucker said he was really happy that we found her, but a little bit shook up.
Huether's body was at the base of a steep cliff beneath what's called Table Top and the Cinderella Shoe, about four miles northwest of Stevenson, according to the sheriff's office.
Martin described it as a truly near-vertical drop. Rocks fell around as they phoned in GPS coordinates to the sheriff's office. His son, Tucker said the hiking in the area was one step forward and three steps back.
Martin had high praise for the searchers who worked tirelessly to try and find Huether. We wanted to do something ourselves to aid in the search, he said. The location was a hunch that he didn't think would pay off.
Undersheriff Dave Cox said he was grateful that the father and son followed through on that hunch.
That's what we do, Martin said of the Saturday of the volunteer search. That's why we live in the country. You help your neighbor out here.
He said that after finishing with the authorities on pinpointing their location, he and Tucker returned to town and drank hot coffee to recover from bone-chilling cold.
Martin said he then met Bob Huether. Me and Tucker stopped at the bottom, gave him a hug, told him we're sorry.
Martin said he lost two siblings several years ago to natural causes. He said he can relate to the emotional abyss within Bob Huether for losing his daughter.
Huether missing since March 4
During a weeklong search, the only information that authorities had to go on was her car found at a trailhead and a credit card receipt with her name found about four miles north of Bonneville Dam.
The offiicial search for her ended last Wednesday but her father continued with friends and volunteers. He declined to talk Sunday.
This is my daughter, Bob Huether said last week. I'll do whatever I have to do until I'm convinced I can't do any more.
The PSU student disappeared after going for a hike near the Bonneville Dam. For days, search and rescue crews combed the Table Top area, searching from the ground, horseback and air. But with no new clues, the search was called off Wednesday.
Bob Huether decided then to continue the search himself.
It's difficult to think about what Kate might be going through, he said then. But at the same time, that difficulty kinda moves you forward to say let's keep going.
The doting dad was in anguish during the search and said he would stop at nothing to find his little girl. So one step at a time, Huether and a few friends took to the trails on their own looking, and listening for any sign of Katie.
The folks have really scoured the hillside up there and we just cant find her, said Skamania County Undersheriff Dave Cox last Wednesday.