A Look Back in Time: Bellevue Girl Dies From Exposure in Ill-Fated Youth Group Hiking Trip in the Goat Rocks

Posted

A Bellevue Presbyterian Church youth group was struck by tragedy on Aug. 4, 1962, while on a week-long hike in the Goat Rocks Wilderness when one of the hikers died.

“A girl, one of the hikers of an apparently ill-prepared outing, died from cold and exposure near the Goat Rocks area,” The Chronicle wrote.

The girl was identified as Dana Yelverton. According to Lewis County Coroner Dr. A.R. Twiss, Yelverton had been “lightly clad” and had died of exposure. On Thursday, Aug. 2, the hikers “ran into heavy rain, snow and hail storms.”

Yelverton apparently became ill and “efforts to keep her protected failed.” After Yelverton died, the group left her body and hiked back to Packwood Lake where they had started the hike and contacted the Forest Service. Lewis County Sheriff Orville Amondson and Twiss arrived at Packwood and rode by horseback to retrieve Yelverton’s body.

Tucker Thompson, 24, was the leader of the group. According to Thompson, the children had worn light clothing and carried their sleeping bags. Thompson said the group was caught unprepared and “all of the hiking party was thoroughly soaked and cold.”

Out of the 26 members of the youth group, nine had completed the 24-mile hike from Packwood Lake to Chambers Lake. The rest returned to Packwood Lake after Yelverton’s death.

 

Saturday, Aug. 6, 1932

• The 3rd Tank Company and military police from Fort Lewis camped at Offut Lake, north of Tenino, on the week of Aug. 6. They were scheduled to be joined by the 6th Engineers and 10th Field Artillery in the coming days. On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the soldiers were to participate in water sports at the lake with a free dance scheduled for the night of Wednesday, Aug. 10.

• Two men, H.A. Fowler, 34, and H.G. Carr, 32, and two unnamed “young women” were arrested by Centralia police on the night of Aug. 5 for allegedly pumping gas and driving away before paying. The two women, ages 20 and 27, identified themselves as the wives of Fowler and Carr, but it was claimed by the officers that “they are not the wives of the two men, but are hitchhikers whom Fowler and Carr picked up in Minnesota and brought west with them.” The Chronicle reported the police found a loaded revolver and California license plates they accused the defendants of having stolen.

• Chehalis resident Don Abel was scheduled to speak to veterans at the Chehalis Moose Hall on the night of Monday, Aug. 8. Abel, who was seeking the Democratic nomination for the congressional seat including Southwest Washington, was expected to speak on the benefits of “current laws to mothers, wives and widows of ex-service men.” Abel was running against Martin Smith, of Hoquiam, in the Democratic primary.

• Rev. Earl Benbou was expected to deliver a sermon on Sunday, Aug. 7 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Chehalis. The sermon was scheduled for 11 a.m. Benbou was the pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle at the time.

• The Chehalis company Johnson and Sullivan was reported by The Chronicle as having made arrangements for reopening the “Woodland Theatre.” The theater would feature shows by the Rogers and Moore Players. Vaudeville was expected to be performed between acts.

• A couple who had recently moved to the area from California were forced to remarry due to slow paperwork processing on Thursday, Aug. 4. “The quirks of the California marriage law and the slowness of Oakland papers to publish marriage licenses caused Mr. and Mrs. H.J. Waters of Olympia to go through a second marriage ceremony here Thursday. The couple were married several weeks ago in an Oakland church,” The Chronicle reported. However, because the license they received wasn’t published prior to their marriage ceremony, the couple was “advised of the invalidity of their marriage and sought refuge under the more lenient Washington statute.”

• The weather forecast for Sunday, Aug. 7, was a high temperature of 95 degrees and a low of 54 degrees. “Gentle to moderate” winds were also expected.

 

Thursday, Aug. 6, 1942

• On Wednesday, Aug. 5, Gov. Arthur Langlie requested Washington residents to voluntarily halt public gatherings. The request was made as part of an effort to reduce gas consumption during World War II. Langlie cited a memo from the state’s Highway Traffic Advisory Committee raising concerns about the “scheduling and holding of large public gatherings attracting patronage from long distances and involving extensive travel,” The Chronicle reported. In accordance with the committee’s memo, Langlie had sent letters to organizations throughout the state requesting the “discontinuance of certain current events and those scheduled for the future.”

• Rev. Arvid Ohrnell, chaplain at the state reformatory in Monroe, praised the prison reforms of Gov. Arthur Langlie at a meeting of Centralia Kiwanis Club members. Ohrnell spoke about the contributions of the state parole board at the time and praised former Lewis County Prosecutor James Sareault for his work on the board.

• Three-month-old Lucky Eldon Osborne died in his sleep after being smothered in his crib on Aug. 5. The son of “Mr. and Mrs. Walter Osborne,” the fire department attempted to resuscitate Lucky but was unsuccessful. He was born on May 7 and was survived by three sisters and three brothers. Funeral services were scheduled for Friday, Aug. 7, at 3 p.m. at the Fissell Chapel.

• A new, four-room house on Washington Avenue was listed for $3,000 in The Chronicle. The house was reported as having an oil furnace, Venetian blinds, a “lovely kitchen” and a utility room. The home also had a “large lawn and garden” with shade and fruit trees. Adding to the house’s draw was the fact the home was situated on a “paved street.”



• The officer in charge at the Chehalis naval recruiting station compared the ranks of soldiers in the Army and Navy on Wednesday, Aug. 5. C.L Hudson, the officer in charge, explained the equivalence of positions like admiral and general, captain and colonel and commander and lieutenant colonel. Hudson also explained the names used for non-commissioned servicemen in the military, telling the group non-commissioned soldiers were known as petty officers in the Navy while in the Army and Marine Corps they were referred to as non-commissioned officers, or “non-coms.”

• The enlistment of two Lewis County men in the military was announced on Wednesday, Aug. 5 by Sgt. Rex Roberts, the officer in charge of the Chehalis Army recruiting office. Cal Ingalls, of Rochester, and Henry Deskins, of Chehalis, were announced as having joined the Army and had been sent to Fort Lewis, where they were to be “uniformed, classified, vaccinated and inoculated before being assigned to units of the Army,” The Chronicle reported.

• The Automechanics National Defense Training School announced the graduation of 11 “young men” on Aug. 5. The men had completed basic training in repairing “tractors, trucks and motor cars” and were now eligible to to work as mechanics’ helpers. The names of the young men were Willis Barney, Charles Ellison, Clyde Frantz, War Hager, Waldo Hayes, George Mauel, Gregg McFadden, Donald Sabin, Donald Smith, Elwood Smith and LeRoy Wackerbarth.

 

Wednesday, Aug. 6, 1952

• A fire in downtown Chehalis caused an estimated $6,500 in damages to three businesses on the night of Tuesday, Aug. 5. The fire was first discovered when Chehalis Police Officer John Babb passed by the stores while on patrol around 11:05 p.m. The Chronicle reported 14 firemen and two fire trucks responded to the alarm. A short circuit in the wiring was suspected as having caused the fire.

• Roy Hamilton, the Lewis County Weed Supervisor, made an “urgent plea” to Lewis County farmers on Wednesday, Aug. 6, asking them to destroy tansy ragwort weeds before the weeds “destroy farming in Lewis County.” Hamilton said farmers had done a good job trying to control the weeds in areas where weed control was being actively practiced, “but in areas where nothing was done, there are 100 times as many tansy plants this year as there were last year,” The Chronicle reported. According to Hamilton, an individual tansy ragwort weed spreads between 150,000 and 200,000 seeds.

• A $500,000 addition to the St. Helen hospital in Chehalis was scheduled to be formally dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 6. An open house was to follow the deviation, with the public invited to visit the new extension, according to hospital administrator Sister M. Perpetua. The new wing of the hospital had 55 new beds and new childbirth facilities, including a new delivery room, labor rooms and a nursery. The dedication was scheduled to include Archbishop Thomas Connolly, head of the Archdiocese of Seattle, and Chehalis Mayor Leonard Sonnemann.

• Defective electrical wiring was believed to be the culprit behind a fire that destroyed a barn, a granary and 35 tons of hay on a farm near Rochester on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 5. An estimated $6,000 in damages was caused by the fire, $5,000 in damages to buildings and $1,000 from the loss of hay. Several chickens lost their lives in the flames. The damages were covered by insurance.

• Peggy Smith, 32, was injured in Chehalis on Aug. 5 when her car crashed into a truck. Smith, a Centralia resident, was taken to St. Helens Hospital where she was treated for “a compound fracture of her left arm, a right knee injury, head cuts and other severe lacerations,” The Chronicle reported. There was $2,200 in damage caused by the crash, $750 to Smith’s car and $1,500 to the lumber truck Smith’s car crashed into.

• Centralia firemen fought a “larger-than-usual blaze” on the night of Aug. 5. The fire destroyed a building containing a woodshed and chicken house belonging to George Johnston. The fire was discovered by police just before midnight and had spread to a light pole and telephone pole by the time the fire department arrived. The building was reported by The Chronicle as being “beyond saving.” Three chickens suffered burns in the fire.

• Cascade Elementary School was selected to serve as the polling place for an upcoming special Chehalis School District election on Aug. 19. The election was being held to determine whether funds from the sale of the old high school property should be transferred from the building fund to the general fund. Should the transfer be approved, the funds were to be used for improvements to Cascade and R.E. Bennett Elementary Schools. Based on The Chronicle’s reporting, it appears Cascade was the only polling place for the election.

 

Monday, Aug. 6, 1962

• The Aug. 6 edition of The Chronicle featured two front page stories on the death of Marilyn Monroe, who passed away on Aug. 4. “Even Soviets Know” read The Chronicle over an Associated Press story titled “Beautiful Blonde’s Death Brings Shock.” The headline of the other front page story read “Film Star Marilyn Monroe Ends Her Troubled Life.” One of the stories wrote of her death, “the mysterious death brought a tragic end, at 36, to the trouble-scarred life of Norma Jean Baker — The frightened waif who became the world's most famous blonde.” Police Officer James Dougherty, Monroe’s first husband who she married at 16 was reported as saying “I’m sorry” when asked about her death on a patrol 10 miles from Monroe’s home. A picture of Monroe featured the brief description “SUICIDE?” Monroe was 36 years old when she died of a drug overdose in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.

• Lewis County experienced its 10th traffic fatality of 1962 on the evening of Aug. 5 when Mary Ann Bakkila, 18, “slammed into a huge boulder.” Bakkila was a passenger in a car driven by Robert Blackwell, 17, of Yakima. According to the Washington State Patrol, “Blackwell’s car went out of control and ran off the left side of the highway.”

• The Lewis County Pomona Grangers decided to endorse the creation of a port district after former state Senator Dale Nordquist of Centralia spoke in favor of the district’s creation. The district was expected to create “more industry and more jobs” in the county. The vote on the port district’s creation was scheduled for the primary election on Sept. 11.

• Lewis County Auditor Vern Cain announced on Aug. 6 that his office would be open on Saturday, Aug. 11, to allow Lewis County residents to register to vote in the Sept. 11 primary. Aug. 11 was the last day residents could legally register and participate in the primary election.

• A nine-room furnished house with six bedrooms was listed for $6,000 on Logan Street in Centralia.

• The Seattle World’s Fair was reported as having received 52,468 visitors on Sunday, Aug. 5 and 54,971 on Saturday, Aug. 4. In total, over 5,325,533 people had attended the World’s Fair in Seattle as of Aug. 6.

• A mother and son were reunited for the first time in 23 years at Sea-Tac Airport. Hans Mark of Rotterdam was only 8 months old when he was taken from his mother “Mrs. Frank Cooper” of Shelton. Cooper was separated form her son when she was taken by the Nazis to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Bavaria, Germany. Cooper had been told by her former husband that Mark was killed along with her three other children during World War II. According to the story, Mark had never stopped searching for his mother, tracing her through displaced persons records and the International Red Cross. Mark eventually connected with his mother after writing to her at her home on Lake Nahwatzel west of Shelton. Mark made a “trans-Atlantic telephone call” and arrangements were made for Mark to travel to the U.S. “Hans, Hans!” Cooper reportedly said. “Mrs. Cooper said she recognized him immediately and was certain it was her son,” The Chronicle reported. According to The Chronicle, Mark had good news for his mother. Cooper’s three other children had also survived the Holocaust and were “all well, married and living in Holland.” Mark, who had lived in an orphanage until he was 16, was reported as having one goal. “Now I must get to know my mother and everything about the United States,” Mark said. His mother added: “Hans is going to make America his home.”