'It was the hardest thing I've had to go through in my whole life'

'It was the hardest thing I've had to go through in my whole life'

SEATTLE -- The climber who spent hours trying to save the lives of two teenage hikers last weekend says it was the most difficult experience of his life.

Samuel Morrisson Sr. and his hiking partner were just returning to their car on Sunday when a teenage hiker came sprinting down the mountain for help. The hiker said his brother and another teen had fallen during a hike.

An experienced outdoorsman with first aid skills, Morrisson turned around and ran the four miles back to the injured boys.

"If you're out hiking and you need help, it's not even a question of whether we're going to do it. We'll give it our all no matter if it's risking our lives or not," Morrisson said.

The injured hikers, Andrew Lusink, 16, and Ben Skagen, 18, had fallen hundreds of feet after climbing the steep, rocky slope of Otter Falls near North Bend.

Morrisson and his hiking partner, Derek Cofield, reached the severely injured boys and immediately began work trying to keep them breathing until a ranger could get there.

"I thought those kids were going to make it when we got there," Morrisson said.

They built a signal fire after the ranger called for a chopper. Despite their best efforts, the two boys died before help could arrive.

Morrisson said he's still struggling with the deaths.

"It was the hardest thing I've had to go through in my whole life," he said.

Holding his 8-month old son is a comfort to Morrisson, but he said he still feels deep sorrow.

"I'll think of them every time, every time I'm out," he said. "I'll remember what happened. You gotta love life. You can't give up because hard things happen."

A memorial service for the two hikers is scheduled for next Monday.