Wickiup Reservoir apparent drowning victim identified

2nd day of search, sonar fail to find Bend man, 29

Apparent drowning man is identified

La PINE, Ore. - (Update: DCSO identifies drowning victim; active search scaled back)

Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies on Friday identified a 29-year-old Bend man who disappeared and apparently drowned early Thursday after a canoe overturned on Wickiup Reservoir as a second day of searching failed to find him.  

A Klamath County Sheriff’s Office boat with special sonar joined the search on its second day but was unable to locate Michael Mead, and the active search was ended. A 24-year-old Bend man also in the canoe made it to shore safely, along with a dog.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, including Marine Patrol units and detectives, kept searching for a second day for Mead, along with the Klamath County boat and its side-scan sonar unit.

“Unfortunately, after thoroughly searching the areas in the vicinity of the capsized canoe and likely recovery areas, Mead’s body has not been located,” Sgt. William Bailey said in a late-afternoon update.

Mead's name was released after family notification and has been entered into the agency’s system as a missing person, the sergeant said. 

Mead is described as a white male, 5-foot-6, weighing about 170 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. The man, a bartender as Mt. Bachelor, last was seen wearing no shoes or shirt and possibly either black pants or black shorts.

Bailey said marine patrol units will continue searching for Mead in the area in coming days. Anyone with further information that could assist in the investigation is asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 541-693-6911.

The side-scan sonar device has been successful in several similar search efforts over the years.

Officials said the lack of visibility in the water and mild currents should not be a hindrance to finding the body.

A Search and Rescue dive team and a drone team also had been searching for Mead.

Deputies were dispatched shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday to the reported drowning in the Davis arm of Wickiup Reservoir, west of La Pine, Bailey said.

An investigation determined the two men were camping Wednesday night in a dispersed camping area, Bailey said. The two men and dog were out in a canoe overnight and it overturned around 2 a.m. Thursday, sending the men and dog into the water.

Due to the isolated location, the 24-year-old had no apparent way to make a call for help or drive to get help, so he waited at camp, the sergeant said. He called for help after an out-of-service cellphone was located in the camp shortly after 9 a.m.

The dive team later found gear from the boat on the lake floor, in about 20 feet of water. Bailey said search efforts were focused in that area.

Searchers and the dive team spent hours on the water and did an incredible job today," the sergeant said. Visibility underwater near the bottom is poor, with only a foot or two of visibility. Our estimated search area is about 17 acres, so its almost a hand search down on the bottom, looking for any more gear or the missing person.

Neither man was wearing a life jacket when the canoe flipped, Bailey said, adding that alcohol is believed to be a factor in the incident. 

Boating traffic was asked to avoid the Davis arm due to search operations.

Wickiup Reservoir, the second-largest in Oregon, is the largest of the Cascade lakes and located 60 miles southwest of Bend, covering 17.5 square miles. It has an average depth of 20 feet.

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