Searchers find missing Prineville man, OK after 4 days in woods

Linn Co. sheriff thanks many agencies who helped

ALBANY, Ore. - (Update: Missing Prineville man found in good shape)

An extensive four-day search for a missing 70-year-old Prineville man ended in success Saturday morning as he was found in good shape, Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley said.

In a news release, Riley said he was "pleased to report that after four days of extensive and exhaustive searching, Jerry Thomas has been found alive and well. He was found by ground crews this morning at approximately 8:55 a.m., near Daly Lake, which is about three miles from the Parish Lake Trailhead."

"Thomas was wet and hungry but overall, in good spirits and health," the sheriff said in a news release. "Upon taking a hot shower and being reunited with his wife, who is a registered nurse, Thomas declined medical treatment.

Riley said he wanted to personally thank his staff, all of the volunteers and the several agencies who helped in this search for Thomas, who disappeared Wednesday while picking huckleberries with friends off Parish Lake Road, off Highway 22.

"This is a testament to the teamwork, dedication and tenacity of all involved," he said. "Being part of a life-saving mission such as this is one of the most satisfying rewards we can experience in law enforcement. The successful outcome of this search would not have been possible if not for the services and dedication of numerous volunteers and agencies."

Saturday's searching alone included over 80 SAR members from numerous agencies.

The following is a list of all the agencies who assisted in the search; Linn, Marion, Lane, Jefferson, Deschutes, Benton, Yamhill, Polk, Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington County sheriff's offices; Linn County Sheriff's Office Mounted Posse, Oregon Army National Guard, Corvallis Mountain Rescue, Mt. Jefferson Snowmobile Club, Pacific NW Search and Rescue, Linn County Amateur Radio Emergency Services, North Oregon Regional Search and Rescue, and the Sweet Home District of the USFS. Also, the Washoe County Sheriff's Office of Nevada flew in an expert in man-tracking to the scene. 

Riley also offered a special thanks to all the Oregon sheriffs who volunteered their staff and assets to assist in the search. Riley said, "In time of need, fellow sheriffs band together, and Linn County citizens should be proud and appreciative of all their dedicated support."

Thomas, who disappeared Wednesday while picking huckleberries with friends, said Sheriff Bruce Riley.

On Friday, the sheriff said about 45 searchers were continuing and expanding the search, assisted by an Oregon National Guard Lakota helicopter.

“At the time of this release, no clues or evidence has been found,” Riley said. “Searchers are faced with thick, dense brush covering all their search areas.”

In a flyer, Thomas is described as wearing a tan plaid shirt, blue jeans and a straw hat, and had a small white bucket. He was last seen in the Parish Lake Road area off state Highway 22.

Linn County SAR has been assisted by the Lane, Jefferson, Benton and Deschutes County sheriff's offices, Corvallis Mountain Rescue and the Oregon Army National Guard.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the Linn County Sheriff’s Office at 541-967-3950.

The sheriff’s office’s 911 center received a call around 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, reporting that Thomas disappeared while picking huckleberries with his friends, about a quarter-mile from their camp, Riley said.

The caller reported they had been searching for Thomas since about 1:30 p.m.

Members of Linn County Search and Rescue responded with a hasty team of 15 personnel an began searching, which continued through the night.

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