This is a chronology of events on Dec. 5 in the Klamath Falls area. Shortly before 3 p.m. that day, 8-year-old Derrick Engebretson got separated from his father and grandfather. while hunting for a Christmas tree in the Winema National Forest near Rocky Point. The location is about a 29-mile drive from Klamath Falls. The boy's father and grandfather searched for more than an hour before flagging down a driver on mountainous West Side Road. This chronology was pieced together with selected radio and telephone communications at the 9-1-1 center in Klamath Falls; interviews with family, searchers and emergency personnel; and weather reports from the National Weather Service, which collects data at Klamath Falls Airport.
2 p.m. (time approximate)-Derrick Engebretson arrives with his father, Robert, and grandfather, Bob, at a turnout on West Side Road near Rocky Point. They hike into the woods to look for a Christmas tree.
2:46 A light snow hits Klamath Falls. An 8 knot wind carries the storm toward Rocky Point. Visibility is three miles.
3:00-Bob Engebretson hikes out of the snow-covered woods, where he last saw Derrick hiking in his father's footprints in the snow to deliver him a hatchet. "Where's Derrick?" Robert says as he reaches the Toyota pickup. "I thought he was with you," Bob says. They hike into the woods to hunt for the lost boy.
3:19-Snow whites out the region. Visibility: 1/4 mile.
4:13-Snow weakens slightly. Visibility: 1/2 mile. Temperature: 23 degrees.
The first call to 9-1-1
4:13 (1 hour, 13 minutes since Derrick was lost)-A 26-year-old Chiloquin man named Fred Heins calls from a resort two miles from Derrick's disappearance.
HEINS: Yeah, we've got a situation on the West Side Road.
9-1-1: What kind of a situation?
HEINS: A lost little boy.
9-1-1: How little?
HEINS: I don't know. I just got stopped on the side of the road by his father. He asked me to call 9-1-1.
9-1-1: OK, are you there with his father now?
HEINS: No, I'm not. I'm at Rocky Point Resort.
9-1-1: Do you know this person's name?
HEINS: No, I don't. It's two miles south from Rocky Point.
9-1-1: OK, so is he going to be waiting there for law enforcement?
HElNS: Yeah, he's out looking for his little boy. In (In a garbled exchange, HEINS explain that the boy's been missing more than 11/2 hours.)
9-1-1: Sir, were you going to head back out to that area, or are you on your way some- where else?
HEINS: I was on the way somewhere else. But I was going to drive back to let them know that I did call 9-1-1.
9-1-1: OK, we need some more information. We need to find out what kind of child we're dealing with and how old and everything. Is there any way that if you do go out there, have him come in to Rocky Point and give us a call?
HEINS: I highly doubt that he will because he's walking up and down trying to find his kid.
9-1-1: Well, he's not going to get any response if we don's get any further information because we can't send out an army.
HEINS: (Garbled, agitated.) . . . kid out in a snow storm!
9-1-1: His kid could be 17 or 18 years old, is what I'm saying. We need to know what we're dealing with. So we need to know what kind of equipment to send out, OK? We can't just send a whole crew of peopleout not knowing what we're sending 'em to. Do you understand what I'm saying?
9-1-1: We need to have more information is all.
9-1-1: It's for his own benefit, OK?
The first deputy heads to scene
4:30 (1 hour, 30 minutes since Derrick was lost)Deputy Richard Hamilton of the Klamath County Sheriff's office phones in, gets sketchy information from 9-1-1. He heads toward the mountain.
4:38-Snow falls lightly in Klamath Falls. Vis- ibility: 3/4 mile. Temperature: 23 degrees.
5:01-Fred Heins phones 9-1-1 with more information. He says the boy is 6 and got lost on a Christmas tree hunt with his father, Robert Engebretson.
9-1-1: We got a deputy on the way. But of course, with the weather conditions, it's going to be a delayed response.
9-1-1: Um, and is he still looking for the little boy?
HEINS: He is. I spoke to the grandfather, and the grandfather is looking. The three of them (were) out. . .
9-1-1: (Garbled.) The riffle boy's on foot? Or does he have a sled ?
HEINS: He's on foot. They were getting a Christmas tree or something. The little boy went off after his father, following his tracks.
HEINS: So the little boy (was walking in his dad's tracks), and so they're having trouble finding him.
HEINS: He's wearing a blue, like, snowsuit, with a hooded coat.
9-1-1:And a hooded coat OK, that's greet. We've got the information. We got a deputy on the way. Thanks so much for getting that other information. OK, sir?
5:03-9-1-1 radios Deputy Hamilton and gives him information about the lost boy.
Search and rescue called
5:04-Sgt. Bill Pulliam of the sheriff's office talks to a 9-l -1 dispatcher, saying he heard the basics on the radio. He recommends that 9-ll phone sheriff's Detective Bud Wilson, coordinator of Klamath County Search and Rescue. 5:05-9-l-l pages Wilson. 5:09 (1 hour, 39 minutes since Derrick was lost)-Wilson calls back on his cellular phone. He is off duty, driving into Klamath Falls from his home in Keno to attend his search and rescue group's annual Christmas awards banquet.
9-1-1: We've got a missing 6-year-old.
WILSON: Where at?
9-1-1: Between Rocky Point Resort and mile- post 12 on the West Side Road.
WILSON: What were they doing?
9-1-1: Apparently he was out-they were out looking for a Christmas tree with his dad and his grandpa. The (garbled) lost contact. Now they're out looking for him.
WILSON: You know why this happened, don't you?
9-1-1: Because they should just go to a (garbled).
WILSON: Not only that, but I was just on my way to our search and rescue Christmas dinner.
9-1-1: Oh my God. You want us to call some- body else?
9-1-1:I don't know.
9-1-1: Poor Bud.
(A garbled exchange follows.) WILSON: Well, let me call you back in a few minutes.
WILSON: When I get through here, I'm gonna go to the Safeway, and then I'll call you. (Garbled.)
WILSON: And then we'll see where we're at
OSP' fire officials asked to help
(Sgt. Pulliam calls 9-1-1 and directs a dis- patcher to phone Oregon State Police (OSP) and see whether they have any units in the Rocky Point area. 9-1-1 gives OSP basic infor- mation and says that Klamath County Search and Rescue has been called, "but it's gonna be a bit before they can get all together.")
5:22 (2 hours, 22 minutes since Derrick was lost, 1 hour, 9 minutes since 9-1-1 called)- Wilson phones 9-1-1 to check the status of the search.
9-1-1: Hi, Bud.
WILSON: Hi. Who's headed up there?
9-1-1: I've got (Deputy) Hamilton, (Deputy) Mike Smith, and we're going to see if somebody from OSP, if OSP can send a trooper up, too.
9-1-1: Till search and rescue is called out or whatever.
WILSON: Yeah. (Garbled.)
WILSON: Well, how long has it been since they've seen him?
9-1-1: OK,, when they called us, which was 16:15 hours (4:15 p.m.).
9-1-1: They said he'd already been missing an hour and a half.
WILSON: Right So they were right off of the West Side Road there?
9-1-1: Uh, apparently so. They were between the Rocky Point Resort and milepost 12 on the West Side Road, somewhere in there.
WILSON: Right (Garbled) Hmm. OK, well, I've called a couple of my people already, and they're already gone (to Mollie's restaurant). So (garbled) up to Mollie's and see who's up there because that's where everybody's at -or gonna be going to. This is like last year!
9-1-1: Why? (A garbled exchange follows.)
WILSON: Well, yeah, I will. I'll just keep calling back with you, 'cause I don't want to (garbled) start 'em up there (garbled) if the troops get up there and find him right away.
WILSON: You know. (Garbled.)
9-1-1: Well, that was what 37 (Hamilton) (garbled). He was coming from Chiloquin. So I don't know.
WILSON: Yeah. (Garbled) going from town. In a whiteout (garbled) condition. (In a garbled exchange, Wilson mentions that some volunteers from the northern end of Klamath County have canceled their trip because- of the poor weather.)
WILSON: OK, well, I've got my cellphone with me. So if anything happens between now and the time I call you back, just page me and I'll call you.
9-1-1: OK, Bud. WILSON: You know, like I said, everybody's getting ready to go to this party. It's gonna be hard to get a hold of people.
5:24 to 5:27-A 9-1-1 dispatcher takes a call from OSP Trooper Stephen Nork, based in Klamath Falls. He recognizes the Engebretsons as neighbors of his mother. He suggests someone call the fire chief at Rocky Point, Larry Renicker.
9-1-1: Well, see, we contacted Wilson. Except he is having a hard time getting ahold of anybody in search and rescue. They're having their big search and rescue dinner tonight They can't find anybody home yet.
NORK: So, nobody's out there yet?
9-1-1: That's why we've got two deputies, and we're trying to get somebody from OSP to go up there and search. (Garbled.)
NORK: Yeah. (Garbled question about who is at the scene.)
9-1-1:I don't know. We're still waiting for a call back.
5:34-A light snow falls on Klamath Falls.
Visibility: 1 mile. Temperature: 24 degrees.
5:36 (2 hours, 36 minutes since Derrick was lost; 1 hour, 23 minutes since 9-1-1 called)
9-1-1 calls Wilson, who explains that it's going to be tough to assemble his troops because they are heading to the 6:30 p.m. banquet in whiteout conditions.
9-1-1: There's a Larry Renicker up there in Rocky Point that works in the fire. . .
WILSON: He's the fire chief, yeah.
9-1-1: Want me to call him and see if he might want to send (garbled), see if he can get anything together? WILSON: Yeah, we probably could. 9-1-1: I don't want to step on anybody's-go over anybody's head.
WILSON: Yeah. (Wilson suggests the dispatcher call Renicker in Rocky Point to let him know what's going on.)
5:39-9-1-1 phones Renicker. The dispatcher says she has talked to Wilson, who is having a tough time rounding up his troops because they are having their search and rescue dinner.
9-1-1: We did get ahold of him (Wilson). And he wanted to know if there would be any way that your fire guys could go out and start a little search.
RENICKER: Where is this at?
9-1-1: It's on the West Side Road, milepost 12, between Rocky Point Resort and milepost 12 on the West Side Road. (Garbled) turnout just north of milepost 12 on the West Side Road. You know where that's at?
RENICKER: Yeah. I can get some people together.
5:41-OSP Trooper Paul Randall calls to ask where the staging area is and says he has someone en route.
RANDALL: Do you need any, some more marked units?
9-1-1: Well, at this point we can't-the search and rescue people, I guess, are having some big banquet and they're hard to get ahold of.And we just called out the Harriman (Rocky Point) fire department people to assist And we've also got three deputies-well, one up there, two on their way and then you. At this point, you know, he's 8 years old, he's in this blizzard, and I guess they need all the people they can get at this point.
RANDALL: OK, I'll call . . .
9-1-1: Equipment I think is their big concem. It's the equipment that they can's get in, back into the woods where he was. So . . .
RANDALL: Depends on how deep the snow is out there.
9-1-1: Exactly. I don't know. I don't know what else they would need. But I guess anybody (garbled) would be helpful.
RANDALL: Yeah, OK.
5:51-Derrick's grandmother, Darla Engebretson, phones 9-1-1 and says the boy's mother, Lori Engebretson, is distraught and wants to drive through the snowstorm from Bonanza (about 60 miles away). 9-1-1 encourages her to stay home and remain calm, telling her that searchers are on their way.
5:53 Sgt. Pulliam calls 9-1-1 to say he'd been in contact with Wilson and that they had decided to send trackers to the scene and wanted them ASAP. He says they have more information on Derrick: He's 8 years old, not 6.
PULLIAM: Just for your own info, when 1 talked to Bud, this is the night for their Christmas party. And he thinks he's notable to get in touch with anybody because they're in transit there.
9-1-1: Well, he needs to go there and tell them to put it off.
PULLIAM: Well, he's already made arrangements to (garbled).
9-1-1: Oh, yeah. I thought they didn't want to respond because it's the dinner.
PULLIAM: Oh, no, no, no.
9-1-1: OK. (Giggles.)
PULLIAM: No. That's not the case.
9-1-1: Where's the party at?
PULLIAM: Mollie 's.
9-1-1: Oh, OK.
PULLIAM: But, uh, they're gonna try to get in touch with everybody-(garbled) one's in transit So. . .
PULLIAM: They're gonna be a while before everybody gets up there.
9-1-1: OK. Well, there's one trooper, possibly they're gonna call out another one on the way up there, and then the three deputies.
ANOTHER 9-1-1 DISPATCHER: They also got a Forest Service Unit and fire guys . . . two fire guys from Harriman (Rural Fire Protection District at Rocky Point).
PULLIAM: OK, great Well, I think that's about all we can do until they get up there, then. He's gonna try to get ahold of a couple of trackers and get them up there as quick as he . . .
9-1-1: Trackers or tracksters?
PULLIAM: Trackers. Try to track ....
9-1-1: Oh, trackers. OK
Others offer help
5:59 to 6:20-State police call to say that snowmobiles are on the way to Rocky Point and that Nork is headed there. A fire depart- ment volunteer at Rocky Point says he has a four-wheel-drive and is going to the scene. By now, the snow is easing and visibility is three miles, temperature at 24 degrees.
6:26 (3 hours, 26 minutes since Derrick was lost; 2 hours, 13 minutes since 9-1-1 called)
-Wilson calls 9-1-1 for a status report. 9-1-1: They're still looking.
WILSON: OK Did Harriman (fire department) get out?
9-1-1: They got a couple Harriman people out. Not very many. I think two or (speaks to other dispatcher), I think two Harrimans, Kathy? She doesn't know how many. Apparently they're gonna get who they can.
WILSON: Yeah, because I was trying to get ahold of (Sgt.) Bill (Pulliam), but he's not answering his cell phone.
9-1-1: That's because he's at Mearle West Medical Center (to check on people injured in an auto pileup) and needs you to call him there.
WILSON: Oh, he does, huh?
9-1-1: Yeah. I paged you. Did you not get my page?
WILSON: You did ? I didn't feel it.
WILSON: Well, gosh, that was a waste. (Checks pager, finds it was not on.) Yeah. I (garbled) didn't have it on. (The dispatcher gives Wilson the emergency room phone number to reach Pulliam.)
WILSON: All right, I'll try. (There are crowd noises in the background.) I'm hoping they can find him without us leaving our party again this year.
9-1-1: Oh, well.
WILSON: Guess where we're at (Chuckles.)
9-1-1: Yeah, I know.
9-1-1: But in these conditions, I wouldn't bet on it (that Derrick is found before the party begins).
WILSON: Yeah. Well, the problem being that from what they're saying, it's taking 45 minutes to an hour to even get there.
9-1-1: Yeah, it is.
WILSON: I don't know. We got three deputies up there. (Garbled.)
9-1-1: (Garbled.) I think it's just a matter of this kid so far in wherever he is. (Wilson and the dispatcher discuss an unrelated matter.)
9-1-1: I don't know, 'cause I haven't talked to 'em at that point
WILSON: Yeah. O.K I'll give (Sgt) Bill (Pulliam) a call and see what's going on.
WILSON: I do have my pager on now, though.
WILSON: All right. Sorry.
9-1-1: Uh-huh. Bye bye.
Search and rescue party
6:30-Klamath County Search and Rescue's annual Christmas and awards dinner begins at Mollie's restaurant. About the same time, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer Doug Corrigan arrives at Rocky Point.
6:40-9-1-1 calls Sgt. Pulliam at the medical center to tell him the situation. The dispatcher says that Wilson and Sheriff Carl Burkhart are at the Christmas dinner and want an update from the scene "so they don't have to send any search and rescue people out unnecessarily." Pulliam agrees to drive to Mollie's and talk to Wilson and Burkhart. While driving there, he calls for an update from Deputy Smith on the mountain.
PULLIAM: Can you give me an update?
SMITH: We're still checking the area right now. Um, we (garbled) have two units on scene. And I don't have anything further yet
PULLIAM: 10-4 How much time are we looking at with the kid in the woods?
SMITH: Close to four hours now-at least close to four hours now.
PULLIAM: 10-4. 36, Sam 9. Do they have a snowmobile in the area?
SMITH: No. I don't believe they do. Not yet.
PULLIAM: Copy. How many people do you actually have on scene? Do you have fire (department volunteers) and everybody?
SMITH: I believe we have a couple of fire units in their private vehicles. There's also some fire units that are checking in the area in their vehicles, going up and down the road. And there's 37 in his unit, and I believe one fire unit beck et the post
6:45-Sheriff Burkhart (S.O. Adam 1 ) calls Pulliam on the radio from Mollies:
BURKHART: I copied some of your traffic. We're going to get some people rolling just as soon as possible here (garbled). The crew is at West Side Road, milepost 12. Is that accurate?
PULLIAM: That's affirmative.
7:00 (4 hours since Derrick was lost; 2 hours, 47 minutes since 9-1-1 called)-Snow falls more slowly than earlier. Visibility: Seven miles. Temperature: 24 degrees.
In the next half-hour, Derrick's grandmother calls to say the boy's mother is on her way to the mountain. An Oregon Department of Transportation truck plows snow on West Side Road at the request of state police. There are now five state troopers at Rocky Point: Sgt. Bill Floyd, Trooper Randall, Lt. Mediger, Sgt. Chris Kaber and Trooper Nork, who is joined by his wife in the search. Mediger has brought along two snowmobiles.
7:31-Snow stops falling in Klamath Falls.
The city accumulates 1.5 inches. On Rocky Point, the snow is estimated at 5 to 8 inches. In the next half-hour, OSP's snowmobiles arrive to help the five searchers. Rocky Point's fire volunteers report to 9-1-1 that they have an ambulance standing by. Chief Renicker and emergency medical technician Kari Ferns- neither trained in search and rescue-do not take part in the search.
Search and rescue team mobilizes
8:25 (5 hours, 25 minutes since Derrick was lost; 4 hours, 12 minutes since 9-1-1 called) -At Deputy Hamilton's request, 9-1-1 calls Sheriff Burkhart to ask when the search and rescue team will arrive at Rocky Point.
BURKHART: Just tell him the roads are extremely slick, and they're trying to get there. It's real slick. (Garbled.) Slow going
9-1-1: OK, so there is no actual ETA time?
BURKHART: Well, couldn't tell you because we just don't know if they're having to chain up what they're having to do.
BURKHART: But they're en route, so just tell them to stand by. (9-1-1 then calls Hamilton to tell them the news.)
8:37-Wilson calls from the sheriff's office to say he's heading out to the search and rescue compound, where the team keeps much of its equipment.
WILSON: We should have everybody en route shortly, the whole crew.
9-1-1: No. I just got through talking with (garbled bled). And he said it snowed so much that he just couldn't (garbled). It's unbelievable. (A garbled exchange follows.)
WILSON: But anyway, I'm heading towards the compound. So you can put me on duty.
9-1-1: You're on, buddy boy.
WILSON: And if you haven't already, put a (garbled) in.
9-1-1: The state police was offering (garbled) night-vision goggles. Would those help you guys, or do you have stuff like that?
WILSON: Uh, no. We don't have anything like that.
9-1-1: Would you be able to use them?
WILSON: Well, I'll tell you, as soon as I get out there where I can call Larry, I'll see what (garbled).
9-1-1: And they also have the FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Detection) unit I don't know if it's on a car-it's on a passenger car, and I don't know if it'd actually make it up there. You know, that heat-sensing unit they have. They're offering that if you need to use that also.
WILSON: Oh, OK. Yeah.
8:44-After the Klamath Falls Police call to offer snowmobiles, 9-1-1 calls Wilson.
9-1-1: How many snowmobiles do you have going up, or do you?
WILSON: Probably two.
9-1-1: Two extras in addition to the two that are up there?
9-1-1: Do you need more? Could you use more?
WILSON: Well, I don't really know yet. Till I get up.
9-1-1: Because (city police officer) Jon Deese is offering-I guess he knows the guy that owns Klamath Motor Sports-and he's offering to get in touch with him, and I'm sure (garbled) demo units that he might be able to loan you guys.
WILSON: Well, OK. (An exchange follows in which Wilson discusses the number of sheriff's personnel at Rocky Point and tells 9-1-1 that the city police department can get its FLIR equipment up there. 9-1-1 asks the city police department to send up its FLI R unit and night-vision binoculars. The police department tells 9-1-1 it's en route with FLIR and night-vision goggles.)
9:00 (Time approximate. 6 hours since Der- . rick was lost; 4 hours, 47 minutes since 9-1-1 called)-The first of Wilson's search and rescue team arrives at Rocky Point: trackers Larry Hawkins and Dan Anderson.
9:12-Wilson talks to 9-1-1 about who's going up to the scene and about what Derrick was wearing.
WILSON: Apparently, it snowed twice since he come up missing.
9-1-1: So there (garbled) the tracks.
WILSON: Right. But the mother's there. And the grandfather. And Mom says he'll climb a tree 'cause he's scared to death of cats.
WILSON: He's got good boots, good socks, good snowmobile suit on. He's got a good hat She's not worried about that part of him.
9 -1-1: Oh, good, OK
. WILSON: So she just said he's scared to death of cats and . . . if nothing else, he'll climb a tree.
WILSON: So I think that night-that QIR- will do it for us.
9-1-1: Good deal.
WILSON: I'm hoping.
WILSON: And Larry said it's (garbled) in snow but that should work really good.
WILSON: So just tell him to contact Larry Hawkins when he gets (on site). And that'll be his point of contact end Larry will (garbled).
9-1-1: Do you want anything out on this yet?
9:16 (time approximate)-Georges Kleinbaum, search-and-rescue coordinator for Ore gon Emergency Management, receives a phone call from OSP dispatch requesting a FLIR helicopter. He immediately calls Wilson, who postpones the request.
9:30 (time approximate; 6 hours, 30 minutes since Derrick was lost; 5 hours, 17 minutes since 9-1-1 called)-Seventeen members of Klamath County Search and Rescue arrive at the scene of Derrick's disappearance. Wilson is not among them. He will drive up the following morning.
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