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Trail man didn't realize he was subject of month-long search

A man considered missing for more than a month after his truck was found down a bank on a remote forest road is back home.

Christopher Wayne Bateman, 40, of Trail, told sheriff's deputies this week that he had been camping in Douglas County and visiting Roseburg while they were looking for him.

"He had a lot of financial stresses in his life that he felt he needed to get away from for a while," Jackson County sheriff's Detective Sgt. Colin Fagan said. "He didn't know that he had made things worse for himself."

Police began looking for Bateman on May 18 and found his Toyota pickup off the side of the forest road north of Tiller, in Douglas County, on May 24.

A two-day search failed to turn up any sign of him, police said. His dog, a chocolate Labrador, was found wandering about 25 miles from where police found the truck.

"He did leave the dog some food," Fagan said. "Luckily, a good Samaritan has been taking care of the dog."

He said he was not aware he was the subject of a search until he returned home, according to a press release from the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

He lived among Roseburg transients for a while during his journey, but decided he was uncomfortable in their presence so he bought a bus ticket back to Medford this week, Fagan said.

"We treat missing person cases very seriously and for this investigation we had asked for help from other agencies," Fagan said. "Our concern the whole time was for his safety."

The sheriff's department said today it does not expect to file criminal charges in the case. He spoke with sheriff's investigators at length upon his return and expressed remorse for the time and energy put into the search, Fagan said.

Bateman will be billed for the removal of the truck from the embankment, Fagan said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.