Derrick James Engebretson

Friday, March 03, 2006

Family launches own search for missing boy

Family launches own search for missing boy
Posted: 12/13/02 8:21 am
Family launches own search for missing boy

Relatives rely on dreams, psychic to find 8-year-old

December 10, 1998

The Associated Press

ROCKY POINT -- With hopes fading in the search for a boy who vanished on a weekend Christmas tree hunt, frustrated relatives Wednesday embarked on their own search, drawing on dreams and tips from a psychic.

The family's breakaway effort, three miles from the sheriff's search camp in southern Oregon's snowy Winema National Forest, showed how emotions have frayed with the urgency of finding 8-year-old Derrick Engebretson.

"We will stay out of search and rescue's way, but we will do our own thing if we have to go over this place 10 times," said Ben Davis, the boy's maternal grandfather. "These people are underestimating him. ... He's a mountain kid."

Family members, who nicknamed the brown-haired third grader "Bear Boy" for his skills as a hunter and hiker, held out hope that he used the small hatchet he was carrying to build a shelter from the subfreezing cold.

They have become increasingly frustrated with the sheriff's crews, saying they were slow in mobilizing when the boy disappeared Saturday, did not dispatch a helicopter sooner and have not been searching in the right places.

About 60 volunteers have joined in the family's search, which focuses on the spot near Pelican Butte where he was last seen. Family members live around the clock at the site, sleeping in motor homes and pickups.

The search was halted as darkness fell Wednesday, but volunteers were set to resume the effort today at daybreak.

Davis said he got his first sleep in four days Tuesday night and dreamed his grandson was in a rockpile across the road from the camp. He spent most of Wednesday morning slogging through the area with volunteers.

"I found everything in the dream, but I couldn't find that boy," he said while warming himself by an open fire.

Dean Davis, the boy's great uncle, took a group of snowmobilers up Pelican Butte to a spot that an amateur psychic from Reno, Nev., had picked out on a map. "She said he'd be up there -- if you can get up there early, he'll be right there."

Nothing was found.

Klamath County sheriff's Capt. Roger Pitts said he understood the family was distraught but that search crews were doing everything they could.

About 80 searchers split into groups and scoured a six-mile-long, crescent-shaped area where they believe the boy is contained.

As searchers poked through deep snow banks with sticks for a fifth day, in areas where overnight temperatures dipped to 8-below zero, hopes of finding the boy alive were fading fast.

"My gut feeling is not good," said Tom Bocchi, part of a National Guard search crew. "It's cold weather and rough country. I'm glad it's not my son."

Derrick vanished Saturday in woods of fir, pine and manzanita where he joined his father and paternal grandfather on the family's traditional search for a Christmas tree. He was last seen when he went off to take his father a hatchet.

Mail Tribune

Copyright © The Mail Tribune 1998, Medford, Oregon USA


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