December 13 2017
On October 22, 2017 at approximately 1:45 am, the father of Nathan Charles Mitchell, 34, of Portland, contacted the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office to report his son as an overdue hiker. A search and rescue coordinator was available and began working on this. At the time, it was unknown where Mitchell's intended destination was.
The following day, Mitchell's vehicle was located in the day use parking lot at the Wildwood Recreation Area in Welches, OR. With this information, Clackamas County deputies began to coordinate a search for Mitchell.
Search and rescue deputies coordinated the deployment of additional resources to include Mountain Wave Search and Rescue, Pacific Northwest Search and Rescue, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Explorer Post, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Army National Guard, Oregon Air Force Reserve and canine teams from Mountain Wave and Northern Search and Rescue.
Currently the search area is approximately 40 square miles which includes areas of danger to include water crossings, cliffs and steep slopes in the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness. The topography of the area has caused complications with communications equipment.
During the search today there were 38 ground searchers which included search and rescue canine teams. The 38 ground personnel canvased varied terrain within the search area and covered an average of 15 miles each. The Oregon Army National Guard deployed a search helicopter. The helicopter searched for approximately 8 hours. As of 11:00 pm there is still a team of searchers in the field looking for Mitchell.
Searchers were able to identify the locations where Mitchell took the photos he sent to friends. They also found a rain cover from Mitchell's backpack. This rain cover was located approximately 5 miles from his car.
Information was circulated in regards to a request for people with drones to respond to the area to help with the search effort. Search and rescue coordinators do not want individuals to assist the search effort in this way. It will impede their ability to use the search helicopter from the Oregon Army National Guard. Please do not come to the search area with a drone. The searchers deployed are trained volunteers from organizations who are experienced with these types of operations.
Search efforts are scheduled to begin again first thing in the morning. A request was made through the Office of Emergency Management for a statewide callout. This will help coordinate additional resources from all over the state. Washington County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Explorers are scheduled to join the search tomorrow.
If media responds to the Wildwood Recreation Area, they are asked to park at the "Media Staging" area which is marked with signs.
The Pacific Northwest is known for its outdoor activities. As a reminder when enjoying the outdoors we encourage you to make a plan and tell someone where you are going. Try to travel with someone else if possible. Be prepared for the elements and unexpected delays should they arise. There are emergency transponders available at outdoor retailers.