A Gold Hill man who went missing for two days after disappearing in a rugged section of Coos County during an elk-hunting trip was found alive Wednesday with knee and shoulder sprains not far from where he'd last been seen Monday.
Lloyd Sinclair, 33, was found at 11:30 a.m. about a quarter-mile from where he disappeared in the Lost Creek drainage, police reported.
Search officials said he was found in a sprawl of jagged bluffs and thick timber.
"It's a really steep, rugged area. Once you leave the roadway, you're in brush that is really thick," Coos County Sheriff's Staff Sgt. Pat Downing said Wednesday. "Being able to track somebody in the weather that we've had is fairly difficult."
Sinclair was hunting with a partner when he went into the brush Monday, following elk tracks. He was last seen at about 10:30 a.m., police said. When he failed to return that evening around 6:20 p.m., his partner called 911.
Less than two hours later, sheriff's deputies and search-and-rescue personnel from Coos County flocked to the remote area and began to search for Sinclair from vehicles and on foot. They set up an incident command post on Burnt Mountain Access Road, near the Coos-Douglas county line. No sightings were reported during the night, though some searchers might have heard Sinclair calling, police reported.
According to Sinclair's recount to police, he was blacked out for most of Monday, injuring himself in a fall at about 10:30 a.m. He didn't wake up until it was nearly dark, according to a press release from the Coos County Sheriff's Office. Heavy rain, injury and darkness made it hard for Sinclair to determine which was the correct direction to walk, so he hunkered down and built a fire, the release said.
A full crew resumed searching at first light Tuesday, with added help from Douglas County Search & Rescue. Authorities expressed concern for Sinclair's safety throughout the search, as he was lightly dressed and didn't have survival supplies.
Sinclair told police that when he woke up Tuesday it was very foggy and raining so hard that he couldn't hear anything but the downpour, the press release said.
"They went all day (Tuesday) until about 6 or 7," Downing said of the searchers.
A scaled-back crew continued the hunt through the night, but turned up nothing.
"Somebody reported hearing a voice or hearing noise they thought was him," Downing said.
That night, Sinclair switched locations and built another fire to stay warm as he slept, the press release said.
On Wednesday, the search intensified and expanded, Downing said. The National Guard flew a helicopter over the drainage using heat-seeking technology to try to find the missing hunter.
Search officials activated the California-Oregon Search and Rescue Task Force — CORSAR — composed of search and rescue volunteers from several counties, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Civil Air Patrol and the American Red Cross.
"It's basically a request for all search and rescue in southwest Oregon and Northern California to assist," Downing said.
Despite all that effort, it was a wild mushroom picker walking by who eventually heard Sinclair's call in the forest and alerted nearby searchers, the press release said.
About 48 hours after Sinclair had last been seen, they found him. He'd sprained his shoulder and knee but was otherwise unhurt. Despite being within a mile of his last known location, search officials said the choppy terrain made it difficult to track him. They also said that listening for sounds in the area was not much help because of the echoes.
"Sound travels really oddly in those type of areas," Downing said.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporter Sam Wheeler contributed to this article.