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Missing U.S. hiker found dead Add to ...

Twice earlier, searchers had combed the area in the exact spot where Wisconsin businessman David Koch's body was found yesterday, almost two weeks after he went missing from Grouse Mountain.

A lone hiker with a hunch, who saw the disturbing image of an eagle lingering overhead in the dense, hidden spot, found the body of Mr. Koch yesterday, ending the painful mystery of his disappearance for his family.

The treacherously steep gully is strewn with rocks, logs and other debris.

Officials believe that Mr. Koch's body had been washed into the area by heavy rainfall on Sunday. Water could be seen pouring down many sections of the gully, although the spot where Mr. Koch was found appeared to be relatively dry.

Searchers speculated that the Wisconsin hiker had slipped and fallen off a ridge at the top of Grouse Mountain into a shallow pool of water, obscuring his body in an area that had been extensively combed by searchers.

Heavy rains on Sunday may have dislodged his body and washed it further down the mountain into an exposed section of the gully, they said. Live television pictures showed RCMP rescuers balancing precariously on the steep, wooded slope as they struggled to attach a green body bag to a long rope dangling from a rescue helicopter.

Wisps of fog sometimes obscured their efforts. Mr. Koch's body was then airlifted across the deeply sloped forests of the mountain to a construction area where it was taken inside a garage-like building. A coroner will be investigating how Mr. Koch died. Some of the many questions that still linger is whether Mr. Koch died of exposure or from injuries sustained in the fall.

The businessman travelled to Vancouver by rental car from Seattle May 25 for a business meeting.

"Now that David has been found, it is time for the family to grieve his loss in private," said a statement released by the family.

Mr. Koch's wife, his sister, Kirsten, his brother, Erik, and other family members and friends had flown into Vancouver from all over the United States to help in the search.

The discovery of Mr. Koch's body and the location partly explain how the technology-magazine publisher, an avid outdoorsman who had been on Grouse before during previous visits, so completely disappeared from sight.

He was last seen on video around 8:30 p.m. May 25 while purchasing a ticket to ride up the tram on Grouse Mountain.

North Vancouver RCMP and North Shore Search and Rescue, which worked on the rescue operations, said it was uncertain whether Mr. Koch planned to hike down the mountain. He was dressed in sandals, not hiking shoes, and had about 45 minutes of daylight left after arriving at the top of the mountain.

The hiker who found Mr. Koch is well-known to volunteers in the North Shore. The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, had come across rescuers earlier in the week in the area as he was conducting his own hike in Grouse to try to locate the missing Mr. Koch.

George Zilahi, the operations manager for the volunteer-based North Shore Search and Rescue, said the past 12 days have been gruelling for the family and volunteers.

"I spoke to the family yesterday for about 2½ hours and told them it's going to take a hiker out there or one of our volunteers to come across him and that's what happened," Mr. Zilahi said. "There's closure now that someone's husband, someone's brother and someone's son is going home."

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