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Eatonville man dies while hiking but dog doesn’t leave his side for two days

Daisy waits for rescuers near the body of her owner Thursday. The man died while hiking near Eatonville.
Daisy waits for rescuers near the body of her owner Thursday. The man died while hiking near Eatonville. Pierce County Sheriff's Department

An Eatonville man died while hiking, but his dog wouldn’t leave his side, eventually alerting rescuers to their location, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reported Friday.

The 64-year-old man had gone hiking with the family dog, Daisy, on Wednesday and hadn’t returned home by dark. The man’s wife called 911 early Thursday to report him missing.

The man had not left a note on his whereabouts, but he recently had conducted an internet search on geocaching locations in the Evans Creek area.

When day broke on Thursday, Pierce County sheriff’s deputies along with search-and-rescue team members began looking in that area.

Meanwhile, phone records showed the man last used his phone in the Alder Lake area. That area was searched as well.

At 3 p.m., searchers spotted a vehicle over an embankment in the 49800 block of Mountain Highway. Using ropes they lowered themselves down to the vehicle.

It turned out to be a stolen truck that had apparently been dumped off the road.

At 4:45 p.m., searchers found the missing man’s vehicle parked on Mashel Prairie Road. Inside it was a list of geocache locations. Team members set out on foot to check each location.

An hour later, a searcher heard a dog barking and followed the sound.

Eventually, the deputy spotted Daisy on a steep embankment above the Mashel River. It would take another 30 minutes of hiking through thick brush and woods to reach the barking dog.

The searcher found Daisy next to the man. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office would rule he had died from heart disease.

The man’s body was retrieved, and Daisy was returned home.

“Without the barking of his loyal companion Daisy, we never would have located the missing man,” the Sheriff’s Department wrote in a news release.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.
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