A missing Bend woman was the subject of an extensive search until her body was found Monday about 200 feet down the Crooked River canyon, the apparent victim of a “tragic," accidental fall, Jefferson County sheriff’s deputies said.
The sheriff’s office led the multi-agency search of the river upstream of Opal Springs to find Valerie McKie, 38, said sheriff’s Capt. Marc Heckathorn.
McKie was reported missing to Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Heckathorn said.
An investigation led to her cell phone being tracked by its carrier, who provided a locaton near Opal Springs, west of Culver, Heckathorn said. The area was searched until nightfall Sunday, but neither McKie nor her car were found, he said.
On Monday morning, Jefferson and Deschutes county deputies joined Crooked River Ranch Fire and a BLM ranger in a search of the area starting around 8 a.m., Heckathorn said.
Around 9:30 a.m., McKie’s car was found at the end of Horney Hollow Trail in Crooked River Ranch, about two miles from the cell phone location, on the opposite side of the canyon, he said.
A Jefferson County deputy walking the canyon rim discovered McKie’s body around 11 a.m., found about 200 feet down the steep canyon wall on the west side of the Crooked River, Hecakthorn said. Rescuers walked down to the woman and found she was deceased, he said.
The Crooked River Ranch Fire Department’s rope rescue team was able to recover the body, which was taken to a Madras funeral home.
McKie’s family was notified, and while the investigation is not over, Heckathorn said the death “is believed to be the result of a tragic accident and not a suicide.”
The sheriff’s captain urged those enjoying the outdoors to let someone know where they are going and when they plan to return – “and to keep a safe distance from any canyon rim.”