Mushroom pickers found after stormy night in woods

RICKREALL, Ore. - Marion and Linn County sheriff's office search teams were busy Saturday night and Sunday morning, looking for and finding two mushroom pickers who became separated from two different groups of pickers west of Salem.

Hun Meas, 31, of Salem went to an area off McCoy Road and Highway 22 with three other friends on Saturday afternoon. They intended to search the forest for mushrooms.

Meas became separated from the group around 5 p,m. The group drove around on several forest roads trying to find him, but eventually called 911 to request assistance from the sheriff's office, deputies said.

Due to the stormy weather conditions and pending darkness, deputies established a containment perimeter and continued to search for Meas along the forest roads.

At about 6:17 p.m., 911 dispatchers received a call of a second missing mushroom picker. She had become separated from her group about 1/2 mile from the area where Meas and his groups were searching for mushrooms. She was identified as Deena Maria Scalia, 56, of Salem.

Neither Meas nor Scalia had overnight supplies, food or extra clothing.

Scalia's family members came to the search area to assist. At one point, they were able to make out her faint calls for help, but the wind moving through the trees made it impossible to locate her.

Deputies located what appeared to be pink marking tape on several bushes. The tape is often used to mark a trial to assist in returning to the original starting point. Scalia was known to use this method of marking her hikes.

Deputies continued looking for both missing persons. Scalia was found shortly before midnight.

Once she realized she was lost and not going to make it out before the morning, she took shelter under a tree and waited for rescuers. She was cold and wet, but unharmed, deputies said.

Marion County's Jeep patrol mobilized 6 Jeeps that continued searching for Meas throughout the night.

Marion and Linn County Search and Rescue teams started searching at dawn. The searchers included members of MCSO Team 18, and the MCSO Special vehicles unit. About 40 searchers took part in the effort to find Meas.

At about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, they located Meas walking along Road 510. He told deputies he realized he was lost and decided to follow the river downstream to safety, but it got too dark and the windy, wet weather made it unsafe. He took shelter under a tree. Meas refused medical assistance.

These searches are perfect examples of how easy it is for someone to become lost when distracted while picking mushrooms, deputies said.

Hikers and mushroom pickers are encouraged to stay together and to bring extra food, water and shelter; even if they are not planning to spend the night in the forest.

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