Boy's Family Says It's Time To Go Home
Posted: 12/13/02 8:24 am
Boy's family says it's time to go home
December 19, 1998
By The Associated Press
ROCKY POINT -- Standing in the snowy forest where her son vanished on a Christmas tree hunt, a tearful mother told searchers Friday that two weeks of looking was long enough: "Go home and take care of your own families."
Though Lori Engebretson declared an end to the daily search for 8-year-old son Derrick, she made it clear the family would keep making trips back to the Winema National Forest and never give up hope.
"We're going to find my son regardless of how long it takes," she said before breaking down.
Volunteers will spend a last day searching in the frigid forest Saturday, then the camp that Derrick's family has maintained at a roadside turnout overlooking Upper Klamath Lake will be packed up.
Said Russell Davis, one of the boy's great uncles: "We want people after Saturday to go back to your families and say your prayers."
Derrick, a brown-haired third-grader who was nicknamed "Bear Boy" by his family for his love of the outdoors, wandered away Dec. 5 while searching for the tree with his father and paternal grandfather.
A snowstorm blew in just as the boy disappeared, and family, friends and hundreds of volunteers have not been able to find him.
As the days went by and overnight temperatures dipped below zero, family members grew frustrated with the pace of the official effort and maintained their own search for the boy.
At the height of the effort, three helicopters equipped with heat-sensing devices buzzed the treetops and searchers and dog teams moved across the snowy slopes in a line.
The choppers periodically identified hotspots that many hoped would be the boy, but they all turned out to be rocks warm from the sun and buried in insulating snow.
A bookmark was found this week sticking out of the snow, printed with the "Goosebumps" book series logo. It wasn't certain the bookmark had been left by Derrick, but he was a fan of the books and was wearing gloves carrying the "Goosebumps" logo when he disappeared.
Some fir boughs laid over a downed log was thought by some to be a shelter, but forest rangers said it was probably the result of a falling tree.
"Inside of us it's like we're ashamed that we can't go out in the woods and pluck him out," said another uncle, Robert Baumgart. "This is not something in your wildest dreams you would imagine happening to your family."
Copyright © The Mail Tribune 1998, Medford, Oregon USA