SAR crewmembers find Ore. hunters missing for 3 days
Relieved family members reunited with Uintah and Rick Keever, who Mercy Flights personnel transported to a hospital
By Buffy Pollock
MEDFORD, Ore. — Two hunters reported missing Saturday in the woods of Huckleberry Mountain between Prospect and Butte Falls were found just before 3 p.m. Monday.
Extremely grateful and relieved family members of Uintah Keever, 68, and Rick Keever, 72, who were on scene with search and rescue crews Monday to try and help with the search, said the couple had been found by rescue personnel and transported to a local hospital by Mercy Flights ambulance.
Avid hunters, the Keevers ventured into the woods early Saturday morning but failed to return home that evening. Worried family members contacted law enforcement Saturday night.
Jackson County Sheriff's Department spokesperson Aaron Lewis said a tip from another hunter, who noticed the couple's black Chevy pickup truck had not been moved overnight Saturday, led police to the vehicle, which had one of the couple's dogs inside.
Search and rescue crews were dispatched Sunday morning with dogs, vehicles and a ground team. SAR personnel searched through the night, despite inclement weather hindering the search, and were initially unable to locate the stranded hunters.
On Monday, SAR added ATVs, horses, hikers, vehicles and a drone to the search team, with the California Oregon Regional Search and Rescue Task Force (CORSAR) assisting on the scene.
The search area was about 6 miles down forested roads off Highway 62. Conditions were cold and rainy with low clouds that made searching difficult and limited air operations.
Lewis confirmed via phone Monday afternoon that the couple had been found "alive and relatively well."
Cara Vanderpool, the couple's niece, was headed down the mountain around 4 p.m. Monday after helping with the search.
In a message to the Mail Tribune, Vanderpool expressed gratitude for search and rescue crews and sheriff's department personnel.
"It was great to be up helping search — the SAR team is amazing; the sheriff's office was wonderful," Vanderpool said.
"I can't imagine being in the cold. I am freezing just from a few hours of looking for them."
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