Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Wednesday Updates -- Recovery Mission

5:45 p.m. EST

News that the search has shifted to a recovery operation and that the weather is about to slam the door on searchers again, is unspeakably difficult for everyone involved. Clearly, SAR personel are deeply frustrated that they were unable to find and rescue Kelly, Brian and Nikko in time. For the families—all three families—this inevitable decision means there is no closure. We remain profoundly indebted to those who have done everything possible to achieve a better outcome. As families, we are united in one large grieving family. The story isn't over for any of us until Brian and Nikko come off the mountain and are finally home again.

Frank has just spoken with family members, who remain firm in their hope that their loved ones will be found alive. No family member wants rescuers to take unnecessary risks during bad weather, but the sheriff reassured them that the search will continue when the weather clears.

Thank you for continuing to pray and for your many heartfelt messages to us.


4:45 p.m. EST: News Conference coming up momentarily


Sheriff Wampler has just announced the search is no longer a rescue mission, but a recovery mission. He has spoken with the families of Brian and Jerry. The sheriff said they will continue attempts to locate the two missing climbers. They feel good about the effort they have put out. The family will be departing soon. Wampler said everyone feels a personal commitment to the climbers and to their families. He will finish what he started.

"Our team was just awesome. Everyone in our office we worked with, everybody came together. We got the playbook out for a search on Mt. Hood. That worked wonderfully. We never had any downtime throughout the week. We always had jobs for people to do, and people willing to do it. We ran twenty-four hours a day on this thing. We're at that point right now."

See video should be available soon.

Please continue to pray for the family members as they leave Mt. Hood without any resolution to their crisis.

1:45 p.m. EST:

Sheriff Wampler (who is also a pilot) took off in fixed wing airplane this morning to look around the mountain before this next storm comes through. Yesterday, they took a couple of family members up in the plane to look around.

I'm learning from Frank that the family members didn't have the advantage of watching news coverage on television. It's a little like the difference between watching a football game on television versus sitting on the sidelines, or, probably more accurately, keeping up with the game from the locker room. So this aerial view was an incredible opportunity for family members to see more of what has been going on. Since Frank's arrived home, he's catching up on what we've all been seeing this week by watching news videos and television reports and also getting your messages and hugs.

The sheriff told reporters, "It gave them an opportunity to see where all this is going on up close and to see what we're going through, see what they [the climbers] went through. and I think they felt that. In a way it was good, but it was pretty emotional." Friends of family members have come in to help with support and to help in the search at lower elevations. Winter storm warnings are posted, so the weather is again a serious impediment. They are making the best of a small window of opportunity this morning.

Pray especially for Angela Hall who is now the family spokesperson.

1:20 p.m. EST:

There will not be any more news conferences unless there is new information to report.

Weather in Portland is stormy. They're having school closures. Search efforts are again hampered.

Frank spoke with Angela this morning. Brian and Nikko's families are holding firm. Some family members have gone home, but they're still holding out hope. They need our support more than ever now. Please continue to pray as you have done so faithfully throughout this whole crisis.

12:35 p.m. EST:

Sorry for the lapse in postings here. Frank arrived home safely last night. Delta Airlines was incredible to him. When he first tried to book a flight home, they said they were booked solid. Then the agent saw his I.D., came from behind the counter and gave him a hug. Then she went the extra mile and booked him first class.

In the airport he was stopped numerous times by fellow-travelers offering their condolences.

When he arrived in Orlando, a Delta official was waiting for him and whisked him off the plane. They had his luggage and took him to a different site where our daughter Allison and I picked him up. We are so very glad to have him home, although there is still a flurry of activity here. Frank is still in touch with both families in Portland and the sheriff's office in Hood River. Other media events and funeral plans are ongoing.

I will be providing additional information shortly.



Matt said...

Great to have you home Tiger!

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, we are glad to read of your safe return back to Orlando. We truly grieve with you for the loss of your brother and with the other families as well. We will continue to keep your family in our prayers for the upcoming memorial services and funeral. Omar and Christian Gonzalez, Orlando Florida.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you made it home safely. I will continue to pray for the other families as well as yours. Melissa Kurtz

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to offer my deep sympathy and let you know that all of the families are in my prayers. May God bless you and keep you, now and always.

A reader from North Carolina

Anonymous said...

This has been a terrible month in
Oregon. Those of us who sat by our televisions this past weekend
watching, waiting, praying and
sometimes crying grieve with the
families of Kelly, Bryan and Nikko
who set out with such high hopes of
conquering Mt. Hood. All of us will have special memories of this
time but most of all we will remember and be grateful for the
Christian witness of Frank James
as he spoke for those families and
for himself. May God be with you
in the days ahead as you grieve and
put together again the pieces of
your life.