New details emerge about Ranger Anderson's sacrifice

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. - The head of the National Park Service is offering new praise for Mount Rainier park ranger Margaret Anderson - who was shot and killed on New Year's Day.

In a column, he wrote that Anderson did what rangers do - they protect park guests.

At the same time, new details are emerging about Anderson's sacrifice - from a volunteer who was there that fatal day.

Bill Marsh, longtime volunteer park ranger and former head of King County Medic One, was inside Mount Rainier National Park on New Year's Day, volunteering inside the Longmire Museum.

"She is as much family to me as my kids are," he says.

Over a park radio, he heard the final moments of Ranger Margaret Anderson's life play out.

"Saw her that morning," he says. "She was driving by and honked and waved - smiled that pretty smile - then I saw her literally turn up the hill and go to Paradise."

Marsh believes the gunman was waiting in the queue at Longmire's chain-up area.

"When it was his turn to stop, he kind of just rolled on through," says Marsh. "One ranger got in his car and was immediately behind him."

Ranger Anderson, who by then was farther up the mountain at Paradise, heard the radio commotion and headed down the mountain towards the gunman.

"She turned her car sideways to keep this - whatever it was - from entering the Paradise area," says Marsh.

Moments later, Marsh heard, "Ranger 741 down," and he knew it was Margaret.

Police say the gunman shot at another ranger's car, blowing out his windshield. A source tells KOMO News that a bullet went right through his seat belt strap, narrowly missing him.

Communication was limited that day on the mountain, as 911 tapes show, but Marsh insists even without cell service and using only internal park radios, responders relied on instinct and experience.

"They all showed up, and they all showed up en masse. It wasn't chaos, it was organized right from the beginning," says Marsh.

Some 250 emergency personnel responded, but it was Ranger Anderson who first answered the call.

"Because of her actions - literally laying down her life for the people she's here to serve - there's no higher calling," says Marsh. "We'll always think of it that way."