Crime

Clues scarce in search for missing camper at Baker Lake

Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo, 43, went missing at Baker Lake early Friday, June 16, 2017. Days later, he still hasn’t been found.
Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo, 43, went missing at Baker Lake early Friday, June 16, 2017. Days later, he still hasn’t been found. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

A search for a missing camper at Baker Lake has turned up few clues, days after he walked away from a campsite in the dark and pouring rain, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo, 43, of Lynnwood, tied up his dog, went to the bathroom, and vanished around 12:30 a.m. Friday, at Horseshoe Cove on the southwest bank of Baker Lake, two miles north of the dam. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Gonzalez Arroyo’s wife reported him missing to a campground host at 9 a.m. Over the next few days, searchers have scoured campgrounds, trails and roads, with help from boats and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter. They found no evidence of what direction he was headed, no evidence that he slipped or got hurt, and no evidence of foul play, authorities said.

“Nothing in the immediate area indicated where to search further,” says a news release from Undersheriff Jeff Parks. “The area has shorelines with steep drop-offs, dense vegetation with downfalls and uneven ground.”

Likewise, to family and friends, the disappearance has been a total mystery, said Emilie Rudd, a family friend. Nothing like this has happened before, she said.

Gonzalez Arroyo, a construction worker, has camped at the lake often in the past. He married Courtenay Burnett, a nurse, at Baker Lake four years ago, and he camps with extended family most weekends in summer. He isn’t a strong swimmer, however, and he isn’t much of a hiker, according to the sheriff’s office.

Gonzalez2
Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo, 43, went missing at Baker Lake early Friday, June 16, 2017. Days later, he still hasn’t been found. Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Gonzalez Arroyo was last seen wearing a bright yellow-and-blue jacket, jean shorts and mesh water shoes. He’s 5-foot-5 and 160 pounds. A missing person poster says he only had a pack of 5-brand chewing gum on him. He left his wallet and keys behind. Tips can be directed to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office at 360-778-6600. Or call 911.

Family friends set up a Gofundme page, under “Jose David Gonzalez Arroyo Fund,” to help his wife and extended family pay for the search, divers, and other expenses, Rudd said. The family invites any volunteers to meet at the Horseshoe Cove boat launch at 11 a.m. Wednesday, to help search through the afternoon.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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