Derrick James Engebretson

Friday, March 03, 2006

Family Keeps Up Search For Boy

Family Keeps Up Search For Boy
Posted: 12/13/02 8:25 am
Family keeps up search for boy

December 15, 1998

The Associated Press

ROCKY POINT -- The family of an 8-year-old boy who became lost on a trip to find a Christmas tree last week intends to keep searching until they find some sign of him.

The tent city that had sprung up at the base of Pelican Butte last week was gone by Sunday, along with the trucks, helicopters, dogs and teams of searchers who spent seven days looking for Derrick Engebretson.

Derrick has been lost since Dec. 5, when a heavy snowstorm caught him while he was looking for a Christmas tree with his father and grandfather.

His family still had not lost hope, even though Klamath County Sheriff Carl Burkhart officially canceled the search Saturday.

"I still think that boy's walking," said Ben Davis, Derrick's grandfather.

Despite earlier friction between the two search camps -- the county's and the family's -- only words of gratitude and understanding were said Sunday.

"They've done their best," Davis said of the Klamath County Search and Rescue effort. "We know Search and Rescue has their limitations and had to pull out, and my heart goes out to them. They ought to be proud."

But the inability to find the little boy left many county searchers feeling empty.

"It is extremely frustrating," said Larry Hawkins of Search and Rescue. "We've searched everywhere, and we didn't find him."

Hawkins had been working the snowy mountainside with little rest since hours after Derrick disappeared.

Hawkins said he and others will continue to search on their own. But he said they need a little break. "Everybody's exhausted," he said.

Jim Pitzer, also with Search and Rescue, has a grandson, Kurtis Pitzer, who is a schoolmate of Derrick's. Like many searchers, Pitzer has a deep emotional tie with Derrick's family.

"We all either have grandsons or children of our own," he said.

Pitzer said he, too, would return to the mountain today.

"We're burned out, tired, cranky. But we're coming back," he said.

Bud Wilson, a Klamath County sheriff's detective and coordinator of the county's search effort, said they won't consider the case closed until the boy or his body is found.

This will be the first time in almost a decade that they have failed to find a lost person during an initial search, he said.

"It's so discouraging for everybody," he said.

Copyright © The Mail Tribune 1998, Medford, Oregon USA


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