A few years ago, Forks resident Chris Ford shared a photo on Facebook. It was of a group of men that included his father Hugh Ford. Chris posed the question, “Who were the other men and why had they had the photo taken?”
Over time friends added the names of who they thought the men were but nobody had a clue what the occasion was.
While going through the Forum archives a few weeks ago I just happened to find the photo and several others. They told an amazing story, just perfect for Mother’s Day. Here is the miraculous story of Edwin J. Sandy and a group of men from the little town of Forks that refused to give up, until they returned to a mother a most precious thing, her child.
In November 1952, 17-year-old Edwin Sandy came to the Goodman Creek area with his uncles on an elk hunting trip. Sandy lived in Seattle with his mother, step-father and 7-year-old brother. It was not his first time hunting and he was excited about the trip.
Sandy and his two uncles arrived at what would be their camp on Saturday, Nov. 15. It was about 1.5 miles from the Nansen Anderson home. At 7 a.m. on Sunday the three set out for a day of hunting.
After a while, they stopped to take a rest and Sandy ran ahead a bit to check out the edge of the clearing. The two older men got ready to move on and called to Sandy. He didn’t answer so they thought they would just meet up with him later at camp.
Later when they got back to camp and he was not there, they reported to Anderson that they thought he was lost.
Nansen and Charles Anderson searched near Mosquito Creek until about 3 a.m. and at 6 a.m. notified the sheriff that Sandy was missing. It was reported to his mother in Seattle that her son was lost in the woods.
The weather was too bad to call in help from helicopters so canoes started patrolling the Hoh River looking for him. At the time of his disappearance, Sandy was wearing Levis, a flannel shirt and light boots; he had left his coat at camp. He had his rifle and five bullets.
Late on Tuesday, Forks residents Gene Fraker, Henry Cooper, Paul Atkinson, Hughie Ford and Hollum Hunley left LaPush for Toleak Point. They carried radio equipment.
They reported they had found tracks on the beach and it appeared the person had fallen down a number of times.
On Wednesday afternoon, J.L. McDonald and James Mansfield left LaPush to make their way through the woods toward Goodman Creek.
On Thursday, day four, hope for Sandy’s survival was fading fast. Burrel Cheadle and Don Mathison, Forks loggers, set out for a last look for Sandy. Finding foot prints, they began yelling to each other as they walked along the creek and they heard a voice — it was Sandy — he was sitting on a tree root.
Cheadle took off his wool underwear and put them on Sandy and built a fire. Hearing a boat motor at the mouth of the creek, it was Hunley and Charlie Anderson, and Hunley called out on his radio that Sandy was alive.
A Coast Guard surf boat was sent from LaPush to the mouth of Goodman Creek and the search party brought Sandy to the boat. He was taken to LaPush and then Quillayute Air Station then onto Seattle and home.
Although Sandy had been five days in the woods, he was in fairly good shape after some warming up and food. After no food for five days, he had lost 40 pounds.
It was thought he would not have made it another night.
Ed Sandy’s mother wrote a letter to Nansen Anderson and in it she said, “I am writing this to try and thank you for all you have done, in the search for my son. My brothers told me all you’ve done and gone through and the words “Thank You” and “God Bless You” don’t seem like very much, but they come from deep within my heart. I don’t know the names of all the other men but please thank them for me.”
So I wondered if after all these years was Ed Sandy still alive and so I found him and called him.
Ed Sandy just celebrated his 80th birthday last month. Of his experience he said, “When it started getting dark, I fired my five shots, hoping someone would hear them, but they didn’t.”
Sandy said he did go hunting again but has never been back to Forks. He now lives in Oregon.
“Although I never saw them again, every once in a while I think about those guys that saved me. My mother was so appreciative of the community of Forks.”