After 17 days lost in forest, missing Oregon fisherman found safe

Oregon

Search and rescue crews found 69-year-old Harry Burleigh safe in the Umpqua National Forest on May 23, 2021. Burleigh had been missing since he went fishing at Twin Lakes on May 6, 2021. Photo courtesy Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After 17 nights spent lost in the woods, search and rescue crews located a missing 69-year-old man Sunday afternoon in the Umpqua National Forest. 

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Harry Burleigh’s wife reported him missing on Friday, May 7 after he didn’t return from a fishing trip to Twin Lakes the day before. 

Search and rescue crews found 69-year-old Harry Burleigh safe in the Umpqua National Forest on May 23, 2021. Burleigh had been missing since he went fishing at Twin Lakes on May 6, 2021. Photo courtesy Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Since then, search and rescue crews had been combing the forest in search of Burleigh. They found his vehicle on Saturday, May 8 at the trailhead. Since then, the sheriff’s office said searchers had been coming up empty handed – until Sunday, May 16, when they found a makeshift shelter and a tackle box belonging to Burleigh in the Calf Creek area. 

Burleigh, however, was still nowhere to be found. 

For another week, search crews remained in the Calf Creek area and on Sunday, at around 3 p.m. a team from Jackson County Search and Rescue found another shelter southwest of the first shelter crews found the weekend before. 

The search crews called out for Burleigh and he responded. 

Search and rescue crews found 69-year-old Harry Burleigh safe in the Umpqua National Forest on May 23, 2021. Burleigh had been missing since he went fishing at Twin Lakes on May 6, 2021. Photo courtesy Douglas County Sheriff’s Office

Crews found Burleigh walking and complaining of minor pain, but he was in stable condition. 

A helicopter hoisted Burleigh from the location and a Life Flight helicopter later transported him to a hospital for an evaluation.  

“This was the outcome we all have been looking for in this case. It is because of our determined Search and Rescue Teams and the partnerships we have with other SAR teams from around the state, that Mr. Burleigh has been re-united with his family this evening,” Sgt. Brad O’Dell, from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said. “The Sheriff’s Office wants to thank everyone who was involved in this mission.” 

In the 16 days since Burleigh was reported missing, the following crews and agencies assisted the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office: 

  • Jackson County SAR
  • Josephine County SAR
  • Modoc County SAR (CA)
  • Del Norte County SAR (CA)
  • Siskiyou County SAR (CA)
  • Curry County SAR
  • Klamath County SAR
  • Lake County SAR
  • Lane County SAR
  • US Coast Guard
  • Oregon State SAR Coordinator
  • Brim Aviation
  • Lifeflight
  • United States Forest Service
  • Wolf Creek Job Corp. Hotshots
  • Bay Cities Ambulance

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