Warren hiker found alive on flank of Mount St. Helens

COUGAR, Wash. — A Warren man has been found alive on a flank of Mount St. Helens, nearly one week after he set out on a day hike and failed to return, authorities said Wednesday.

Rescuers found Matthew B. Matheny, 40, on a flank of the volcano in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state, the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office said in an emailed statement.

He was conscious and talking when found by rescue teams.

Matheny was flown to a hospital in a helicopter, but further information about his condition was not immediately available.

His parents told reporters outside the Vancouver, Washington, hospital that he was being treated for dehydration and would stay overnight, adding that he ate berries and killed bees that he also ate.

Matheny was not familiar with the terrain, got lost and had not seen anyone since Aug. 9, they said. That was the day he borrowed a car and headed to Blue Lake Trail on the southwest side of St. Helens. Friends reported him missing after he failed to return, prompting an extensive search.

A sheriff’s deputy found the borrowed Subaru Outback at the trailhead Saturday.

About 30 search-and-rescue personnel, assisted by helicopters, tracking dogs and a drone operated by the sheriff’s office had been searching for Matheny daily, The Daily News of Longview, Washington, reported. Matheny’s friends and family also have been at the search scene.

Searchers on Tuesday decided to focus on a 1-square-mile area based on cell phone signals and a computer model that sought to predict Matheny’s movements.

Charlie Rosenzweig, chief criminal deputy for Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office, called it “extremely unusual” that someone would survive such an ordeal, the newspaper reported.

According to the Washington Trails Association, Blue Lake Trail is a short walk through meadows and tall fir trees to Blue Lake. Beyond the lake, hikers can access other trails and ridges, leading to views of Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams.

Matheny was found below a different trail, authorities said.

“He was in the free forest at this point. He lost the trail, he fell down the steep back,” said Paul Pepper, another member of the rescue team.