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Hikers find human remains

Investigators hope to confirm the identity soon of an apparent fall victim whose body the Jackson County Sheriff's Department recovered from the base of Lower Table Rock Tuesday.

Hikers who had left the trail to seek better opportunities to photograph wildlife spotted the skeletal remains at about 10:45 a.m. Tuesday and called authorities, the sheriff's department reported in a news release Wednesday.

Responding deputies said the body, which was clothed and believed to be male, appeared to have fallen accidentally from high on Lower Table Rock and apparently had been hidden by vegetation for an extended period of time.

Sheriff Mike Winters said detectives and forensic experts at the Oregon State Police lab in Central Point suspect that they know who the dead person is. However, further work is needed to confirm the identity, and relatives must be notified before the victim's name can be released, he said.

Until then, Winters declined to offer additional details or speculation about the case, such as how long the body had gone undiscovered and whether it was linked to any local missing person cases.

Recovery teams working in rugged terrain to retrieve the body struggled with "extremely hazardous" conditions, the Sheriff's Department's news release said. A helicopter lifted investigators to and from the scene and removed the remains.

Officials worked through the day Tuesday to collect evidence, which pointed to the death being accidental. Investigators' work continued Wednesday with a full forensic examination set, Winters said.

Reach Anita Burke at 776-4485 or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.