205 W 5th Ave
Ellensburg, WA 98926-2887
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8 AM - 5 PM
Kittitas (pronounced 'KITT-i-tass') County is located in central Washington
State. It spans from the lush forested Cascade Mountains to the upper Yakima River Valley plains and
the Columbia River.
Kittitas County, WA -
Shortly before 2:00 pm on Sunday 6/4/2023, 10-year-old Shunghla Mashwani of Federal Way was reported missing in the Cle Elum River Valley north of the city of Cle Elum in Kittitas County. Her extended family was gathered at the Cathedral Pass Trailhead on Fish Lake Road (FS4330), playing in the woods on the west side of a footbridge over the Cle Elum River. When the family walked back across the river to the trailhead parking area to eat lunch, they noticed Shunghla was missing. Around 20 adults in the group immediately went back and started searching.
There is no cell signal in the valley, and the family searched for Shunghla for nearly 2 hours before a passerby on a UTV saw the commotion and offered to use the Starlink phone at their cabin on Fish Lake Rd to call 911.
Sheriff’s Deputies launched a search immediately, coordinating with Kittitas County Search and Rescue Volunteers. The search area was steep and rugged, with dense trees and undergrowth cut through by the fast-running Cle Elum River.
KCSR responded with volunteer Ground Team searchers, K9’s, and Drones. Communications and mission support volunteers assisted as resources began arriving from outside agencies. Personnel dedicated to finding Miss Mashwani eventually arrived from King County, Pierce County, Chelan County, Yakima County, Snohomish County, Skagit County, Seattle Mountain Rescue, and the Washington State SAR Planning Unit. Swiftwater rescue teams from Kittitas, King, and Snohomish counties searched the Cle Elum River, fearing Shunghla might have been taken by the swift current. Advanced air support was provided by the Spokane County's Spokane Air 2 and King County’s Guardian 1 helicopters.
At approximately 3:00 pm on Monday, two KCSR Ground Team volunteers, John Sand and Liz Pachaud, found Shunghla alive, with only minor scrapes. She had traveled south about 1.5 miles from where she was last seen, down the west side of the river. Snohomish County Swiftwater personnel used an inflatable rescue watercraft to bring her safely to the east side of the river where she was reunited with her father.
The Mashwani family came to the U.S. from Afghanistan only two years ago and told searchers they like to spend time in the high backcountry because it reminds them of home. Shunghla told her family and rescuers she found herself suddenly separated and alone when the family was traveling back toward the footbridge and couldn’t find the bridge on her own. She hiked downstream through the dense forest and spent the cold night between some trees. She said she knew it was the right thing to follow the river. She proved an extraordinarily resourceful and resilient 10-year-old.
The Sheriff’s Office is deeply thankful for both the result of this search and the tremendous outpouring of assistance and resources that made it possible. If you want to contribute to and support results like this, please consider volunteering with or donating to your county’s Search and Rescue organization.
Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us
Kittitas County has a total area of 2,333 square miles. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 7,959 feet above sea level.