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Geographical Index > United States > Washington > Grays Harbor County > Article # 143

Media Article # 143
Article submitted by Richard Noll

Thursday, March 18, 1971

Many may scoff but... Deputy insists he watched Sasquatch

By Don Hannula
Seattle Times

COPALIS, Grays Harbor County -

In his house trailer here, Verlin Herrington, a part-time Grays Harbor County deputy sheriff, has two curious samples of hair and a polaroid photo of some trampled brush and grass.

The photo is highlighted by a broken devil's club, which grows in these woods. Herrington believes the trampled brush and grass is a footprint, but it is indistinguishable in the photo.

It measures 18 1/2 inches "from the end of the heel to where you could see the toes stepped" and 7 inches wide, Herrington said.

One sample of hair is a single strand, dark brown almost reddish, 2 3/4 inches long. The other is a cluster, grayish and black. Both samples could be no more than cow's hair, but the deputy wonders.

HERRINGTON is convinced that the crushed grass and brush, which did not sink into dirt and could not be plaster-casted, was made by what he saw at 2:35 a.m. July 27 along the DeKay Road, about seven miles north of Hoquiam.

Despite conflicting reports that he believes what he saw was a bear, Herrington is firmly convinced that it was a Sasquatch - the fabled man-like ape of Indian legend.

Herrington, 30, born in Missouri and reared in Toppenish, Yakima County, is a shingle -mill employe here hired by the sheriff's office for the summer. His boss, Sheriff Pat Gallagher, is a nonbeliever in Sasquatches and thinks his deputy saw a bear. The deputy hadn't told him about the "footprint" photograph until yesterday.

Gallagher also does not want any undue alarm or people tramping around the woods with guns looking for Sasquatches. Since Herrington reported what he saw to the press, Gallagher has been beleaguered by telephone calls and television stations from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. Gallagher is not overly enthused about the whole thing.

IT HAS BEEN a center of conversation in the Grays Harbor area, where reaction has ranged from loud guffaws to serious wondering.

Friday some punster submitted a membership application to the Aberdeen Eagles for Sasquatch. It was sent to the Hoquiam Eagles because it was in their jurisdiction. Another joke was a Harry Sasquatch had taken out a building permit for a $5,000 snowshed.

The laughter subsides when you talk to some older Indians on the Quinault Reservation north of here. Many believe the Sasquatch is a survivor of a primitive backwoods Indian tribe which was never civilized - "stick Indians."

FOR YEARS there have been reported sightings of Sasquatches - the West Coast version of the Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas.

The most publicized were photographs taken in Northern California by Roger Patterson of a creature which looked like a huge ape.

The Grays Harbor deputy said what he saw was between 7 and 8 feet tall and weighed 300 pounds or more, it was dark when he saw it standing by the side of the road.

COULD IT have been a bear? Herrington shook his head in the negative. He said:

"It had no snout. It had a face on it. It had feet instead of paws. It had breasts located like a human rather then a bear."

"I had centered my spotlight on it. It walked to the edge of the road, didn't fall down on all fours like a bear would have. The feet had hair right down to the soles but it did have toes. One hand was spread out and it had fingers."

I crawled out of the door of my car, readjusted the spotlight, drew my revolver and aimed at it. As I cocked the hammer, it went off in the brush, still erect."

Herrington said he had hoped to get a shot off to wound the creature so it could be tracked more easily. "I knew I couldn't kill it with my .38 police special," he said. "It seemed to realize I was going to shoot and moved pretty fast."

Herrington formerly worked on a brush crew in Snoqualmie National Forest and had seen many bears there as well as in the Grays Harbor area.

THE ONLY physical evidence he has is the photo of the trampled grass and the samples of hair.

Herrington took the photo the day after the sighting. He found the hair samples in the area three days later. He said the single strand of hair was on the inside of a huckleberry bush limb "like someone had grabbed the limb and broke it back."

There are cows in the area but Herrington did not believe a cow could have rubbed a hair loose inside the bush in such a position.

The cluster of hair was taken from a fence in the area, where the farmer said his cows "had been spooked" by something lately. The deputy said the farmer's cows had always crossed a bridge by the fence but would not when the cluster of hair was there "because of its smell."

Herrington said he hoped to have the hair analyzed.

AFTER THE deputy told his story, he was told four teen-agers saw a similar "monster" near Copalis five months earlier.

Mary Hyde, 16, one of the four, said she saw something big and hairy, standing on two feet late at night. She said she only got a fleeting glimpse of it, but that Greg Nichols, 17, of Copalis got a good look at it.

Nichols' response was, "I didn't see anything," accompanied by a big smile. "I don't want people to think I'm crazy," he said.

Bonnie Wiedman, 17, said she saw it "and it was too big to be a bear."

But other than size the youths gave no specific identification to distinguish it from a bear.

Wilson G. (Bill) Hulet, 70, the best known bear hunter in the Northwest, scoffs at "that arsquash" sighting but said he has never seen a bear that size in the area. From 1910 to 1967 when he retired, he killed 3,350 bears, mostly on contract for timber companies.

He said he had never heard of a Grizzly in the area - just black bears. He said the biggest he killed was 500 pounds and 72 inches from the tip of his tale to the end of his snout. He said a big black bear's foot might measure 9 inches in length but never 18 1/2 inches.

HULET, known in the Harbor as "Billy the Bear," said bears stand but they do not walk on their hind legs as the deputy described.

"Why didn't he get some dogs and find out what it was?" Hulet asked.

Hulet also pointed out that in the summer bears shed and have little hair on their faces and paws. He said the black bears also often have white markings on face and chest. "A bear has a big chest and when it's stretched out it looks a lot like a human," he added. Hulet said he also killed an albino bear that was completely white-faced.

Hulet also said the night plays tricks in the woods. He said he once saw what he thought was a bear in his car's headlights, got a team of dogs, caught it and found out it was only a coon.

But Herrington is firm in his conviction. He said: "What I saw wasn't a bear."

Bibliographical Information:

Five portrait pictures included with article:

Verlin Herrington "It wasn't a bear".
Bill Hulet "Night plays funny tricks".
Sheriff Pat Gallagher "A Sasquatch non-believer.
Bonny Wiedman "Too big to be a bear".
Mary Hyde "She saw something".

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