PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Officials are searching for a missing Portland man who has not returned after leaving for a hike in Corbett, according to Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
MCSO named 53-year-old Christopher Smaka as the missing hiker during a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon. They say Smaka was reported missing by his significant other, who last received a text from him around 8:30 a.m. on Monday.
In the text, Smaka reportedly said he was coming into the Oxbow Park area to go swimming on the Sandy River.
Patrol crews later located his car parked at a trailhead on Gordon Creek Road, which officials say leads to a fairly common swimming area of the river. Search and rescue teams were immediately deployed, MCSO said, and worked their way down the trail.
In their search, crews found some of Smaka’s belongings along the edge of the riverbank — including a pair of shoes and personal identification, among other items.
In their briefing, MCSO said the shoes are a “good indication that he’s probably in the water.”
Ground crews searched along the riverbank while drones from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office searched from up in the air, according to MCSO. Deputies also kayaked down the river in an attempt to locate Smaka.
Officials say they are not yet considering this a recovery mission. Anyone who is out near the Sandy River is urged to keep an eye out.
According to friends and family, Smaka is an experienced outdoorsman, known to pick mushrooms, hike and camp but officials add that the riverbank can become tough to hike from, away from the beach. They haven’t ruled out a possible drowning, whether it’s from injury or cold water temperatures, which is about 64 degrees in that area.
“A lot of times in the hot weather this time of year, people underestimate the Sandy River, significantly. It’s still very cold, it’s glacier melt. People see that it looks low and clear and that river still moves pretty rapidly and it’s very cold,” said Sgt. Brian Gerkman. “Mr. Smaka is an outdoors person, would go on hikes in the woods, so that was a possibility and it still is but the property on the river bank is a big clue, significant clue.”
Since the search area falls into both counties, they’re asking anyone who may have seen Smaka to come forward, also adding that it’s important to share your location and times with loved ones if you’re heading out into a remote area.
“Communicate with people, communicate with your family. Tell them exactly where you’re going,” said Gerkman. “It took us quite a while to find his vehicle so be specific about your plans and stick to them.”
MCSO announced they are discontinuing search efforts Tuesday night. Gerkman added that if there’s indication this could turn into a recovery effort, a dive team will be called out to comb through the swimming hole and nearby area.
KOIN 6 News’ Jami Seymour contributed to this report.