Wallowa County Search and Rescue recovers body of hiker

August 02, 2013 02:22 pm

WALLOWA — A 63-year-old California man died hiking Huckleberry Mountain Thursday morning, according to officials with the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office.

Robert Kruse of Orland, Calif., was on a day-hike with his brother, David, when he collapsed from what appeared to be a heart attack. Chief Deputy Fred Steen said the sheriff's office received a call at 11 a.m. from David Kruse saying he had been performing CPR, but his brother was not regaining consciousness.

At approximately 1 p.m., a Lifeflight helicopter responded to the scene and its crew declared Kruse deceased. Since life flights don't transport bodies, a search and rescue team was dispatched to retrieve Kruse. His body was recovered by Wallowa County Search and Rescue later that afternoon.

“That left it up to us to mount a recovery mission,” Steen said.

With assistance from Craig Anderson and Jim Aikens, Steen led the team on horseback and mules up steep, rugged terrain during Thursday's torrential downpours. Steen said the climb was more than 1,300 feet in elevation over the course of two or three miles. The team examined the scene and recovered Kruse's body.

Steen said Kruse was from Wallowa and he and his brother were climbing Huckleberry Mountain to scatter their mother's ashes.

Kruse had been a packer for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in the 1980's, said Steen, and was living outside of Chico, Calif. He worked both as a farrier and a quarter horse trainer.