Father despairs as search for missing hiker continues

Father despairs as search for missing hiker continues »Play Video
Robert Heuther speaks to the media Tuesday afternoon and said he's holding out hope his 24-year-old daughter Katherine will be found safe.

NEAR BONNEVILLE DAM -  Arriving from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest, the father of a missing hiker in the Columbia River Gorge made a plea Tuesday for public help and said he wasn’t giving up hope his daughter, 24-year-old Katherine Heuther, would be found alive.

 “Anything that you think might be important, please report it to the sheriff’s office,” Robert Heuther said at a news conference just before 4 p.m. “Kate’s a strong young woman; she’s an outdoor person … but it has been a long time.”

He asked anyone with information about Kate, no matter how small, to call the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office. Search efforts for Katherine resumed Wednesday morning.

Thursday will mark one week since she left for a supposedly short day hike.

Kate Heuther was officially reported missing Saturday after setting off for a the hike Thursday around 3 p.m. on the Pacific Crest Trail in the Table Mountain area north of the Bonneville Dam.

Her friends said Heuther’s disappearance was unusual and searchers found a credit card receipt with her name on it on the trail.

On the same day Heuther disappeared, the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into a claim that a man exposed himself to a woman three hours earlier on the same trail.

A sheriff’s office spokesperson said - at this point - that they believe foul play was not involved in Heuther’s disappearance.

Heuther’s friends said the report was a “troubling” development.

Kate’s father said his family is still holding out hope that Kate will be found alive, and “we’ll be able to hold her and talk to her again and have everybody tell her how much we love her.”

Heuther said he adopted Kate when she was 5 weeks old and said that she loved the outdoors since she was a child. He said that he has confidence that she can survive in the wilderness.

Robert Heuther was given a tour of the area by the sheriff’s office earlier in the day and marveled at the ruggedness of the area.

“I was thinking, ‘God, this is a really rough place,’” he said.

He expressed his appreciation for the sheriff’s office and all the volunteers who have been searching for his daughter.

“As you can imagine this is quite a difficult time for Kate’s mom and me and her brother and her friends,” he said. “For all the search and rescue people, we know this isn’t easy.”

KATU News reporter Adam Ghassemi contributed to this report.