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Teen falls to his death in Kittitas Co. wilderness

KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. -- A 19-year-old Spokane man fell to his death while hiking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness over the weekend.

Kittitas County Sheriff's deputies and a search and rescue crew responded to the Spectacle Lake area just before 1 p.m. Saturday for a report of an overdue hiker. 

Authorities say Sean Mortensen had hiked into the Spectacle Lake area with his brother and a friend prior to the accident.

At about 9:45 a.m. Friday, Mortensen told his brother he was going to take a day hike toward Three Queens, which is located northeast of Spectacle Lake. He guessed he would be gone about two hours, deputies say.

Mortensen didn't return by 5 p.m., so his brother and friend started to search the area and were unable to find him. A while later, his brother hiked out to the trailhead to get help. 

Due to the extremely rugged terrain and remoteness of the area, the sheriff's office requested help from Naval Air Station Whidbey. At about 8 p.m. Saturday, a Kittitas County search and rescue team was flown to Spectacle Lake by a NAS Whidbey helicopter. 

The team searched the area but suspended their efforts because it was too dark and unsafe. 

The next day, Mortensen's body was found at the base of a steep talus slope. It appears he fell about 150 feet.

"The Sheriff's Office extends our deepest condolences to Sean's friends and family. It is our hope the community remembers that this is a tragic loss of life, and that Monday morning quarterbacking of decisions made is not appropriate or productive," Comm. Ben Kokjer said. 

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