PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – A Polish military officer visiting the United States for training with a drone manufacturer fell about 1,000 feet to his death while recreationally climbing Oregon’s Mount Hood, authorities said.
The body of 32-year-old Sebastian Kinasiewicz was spotted from the air Tuesday by a National Guard helicopter, ending a search that started a day earlier.
Sgt. Pete Hughes of the Hood River County sheriff’s office said it was too dangerous to immediately recover the body because boulders were falling nearby. He could not provide an estimate for when it would be safe.
Kinasiewicz decided to climb Mount Hood because several members of a military unit from Poland did so last year and planted the country’s flag.
“He wanted to go up there and see that. That was his reasoning behind wanting to climb,” Hughes said. “And if it wasn’t there, then he was going to plant another one.”
Kinasiewicz arrived in the Pacific Northwest about a week ago for training at the Insitu company in Bingen, Wash. The company offered condolences in a statement, saying: “We are extremely sorry to learn of the passing of our colleague Warrant Officer Sebastian Kinasiewicz. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”
According to its website, Insitu instructors have trained more than 2,000 drone operators and maintenance technicians from across the world.
Poland, an Insitu customer for several years, has plans to expand its use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Kinasiewicz was married with at least one child, Hughes said. Websites in Polish say he was a warrant officer and had a background in photography. His work is displayed on a Facebook page dedicated to combat photography.
The novice climber used an off day to go up the mountain Sunday, and was reported missing by a roommate the next morning. Crews found his vehicle at a trailhead, but a daylong search of two routes that start at that point failed to find him.
Thousands of people climb the 11,239-foot peak each year, mostly in the spring. Summer climbing is more dangerous because warmer temperatures melt the ice and loosen rocks.
“If you’re not a climber, you might not understand that,” Hughes said. “You might think, `Oh, it’s nice out. It’s a good day to go climbing.'”
A snowboarder from Colorado died on the mountain earlier this month when an ice tunnel collapsed. In July, searchers found the body of a Salem, Ore., dentist who suffered a fatal fall during a solo climb.
The Polish climber’s military unit has been in contact with Hood River County authorities, and his commanding officer is expected to arrive in Oregon on Friday.
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