BEND, Ore. - More than two months after a Prineville man's disappearance south of Bend sparked a multiagency air and ground search effort, a hiker has found the remains of the retired California sheriff's deputy who apparently walked into a snowstorm for help after his pickup truck got stuck in the snow and succumbed to the elements, authorities said late Monday.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office received a report shortly before noon Sunday of a hiker in the area of Bessie Butte southeast of Bend who had found a man’s body, said Lt. Chad Davis of the Sheriff’s Office Detectives Division.
Detectives and the county medical examiner’s office responded to the location, about 100 yards east of Forest Service Road 18 and about a half-mile south of China Hat Road, Davis said.
The remains were positively identified as those of Lester Hyder, 69, and his family has been notified, Davis said.
“No evidence of foul play was discovered, and it appears Hyder succumbed to the elements after he walked away from his vehicle that had become stuck in the snow,” Davis said in a news release.
“Hyder traveled on foot in a snowstorm that would eventually result in 2-3 feet of snow,” the lieutenant said.
Hyder last had been seen alive in the area of Tekampe Road in southeast Bend. His pickup was later found near Cabin Butte, about 1.5 miles northeast of where his body was eventually found.
The December search for Hyder logged over 1,200 hours and involved dozens of people, including Sheriff’s Search and Rescue volunteers and personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Oregon State Police and the Lane, Linn, Clackamas, Crook and Jefferson county sheriff’s offices, the Camp Sherman Hasty Team and Pacific Northwest SAR.
Searchers made use of ATVs, four-wheel-drive vehicles, canine teams, horse teams and trackers. An Oregon State Police plane and helicopters from the Oregon National Guard and AirLink also were used in the search.
Hyder previously was last seen Dec. 13 in the Crescent area, as he and his brother, Roy, headed north on Highway 97 in separate pickup trucks.
The retired Contra Costa County, Calif., sheriff's deputy and Marine was moving to Central Oregon, driving his 2012 Toyota Tundra from Texas to Central Oregon when he ran out of gas on Highway 97 near Crescent..
Roy Hyder said an Oregon State Police trooper found Lester walking along the highway Dec. 13 and gave him a ride to Gordy's Truck Stop in La Pine. The two brothers met there and drove together to Crescent, found Lester's pickup and filled it from a 3-gallon gas tank.
With Lester's cellphone dead and no car charger, Roy said he urged his brother to closely follow him home to Prineville. But they became separated, and Roy waited on the side of the road, but there was no sign of Lester.