Officials: Missing Wash. Woman's 'Survivability Factor' at Risk

Maureen Kelly, 19, of Vancouver, Wash. was last seen at 5 p.m. Sunday.

ByABC News
June 11, 2013, 1:49 PM

June 11, 2013— -- Rescuers continue to search for a missing 19-year-old woman who disappeared from a campsite after she went into the woods on a "spiritual quest" wearing only a fanny pack.

Maureen Kelly of Vancouver, Wash., has not been seen since she left Canyon Creek Campground at Gifford Pinchot National Forest in southwest Washington at approximately 5 p.m. Sunday, a Skamania County Sheriff's Office news release stated.

Undersheriff Dave Cox told ABC News friends of Kelly's who were with her at the campsite expected her to return within a few hours. While she did not indicate when she would return, her friends called the sheriff's office just after midnight Monday morning to report her missing.

Cox said it is believed Kelly only had a knife, a compass and matches with her in the fanny pack.

"She had talked about doing this spiritual quest for evidently quite some time," he said. "The folks that she was with, they felt that this was something she needed to do."

Gifford Pinchot National Forest spans more than 1 million acres. Cox said a person in good physical condition can travel about 5 miles a day if they were working hard, but the Canyon Creek area where Kelly went missing is particularly steep.

"It's a rough remote area with a lot of timber and brush," he said. "It's going to be a tough go for her, especially with no shoes."

The search had to be called off Monday night at 8 p.m. due to hazardous conditions, but resumed this morning, Cox said.

Cox said the weather has interfered with the search. A thick cloud covering is preventing helicopters from scanning the Canyon Creek area for signs of Kelly, limiting rescue crews to search on land only.

Temperatures also have dropped since Kelly's disappearance, Cox said. While the temperature was in the mid-70s on Sunday, it has since fallen more than 20 degrees.

"The weather [Monday] night was in the mid to upper 40s," he said "The cloud cover did move in, and so we're concerned that we might start getting some precipitation."

Cox said that weather conditions would play into Kelly's "survivability factor."

"As this progresses, we get a little more concerned," he said. "Especially because she doesn't have any clothing, hypothermia can set in a lot quicker."

Cox said search and rescue volunteers found bare footprints that appeared to be the same size as Kelly's foot, but it was unclear whether or not they belonged to her. K9 units brought into the Canyon Creek area were unable to locate Kelly as of Monday night.

While it was "a little bit unusual" for a 19-year-old to leave a campsite nude, save for a fanny pack, Cox said there was no indication that she was on drugs at the time of her disappearance.

ABC News attempts to reach Kelly's family have not been successful.