Hunt For Derrick Resumes
Posted: 12/15/02 12:14 am
Hunt for Derrick resumes
photo by Bob Pennell
Searcher Kenny Harmon, of Roseburg, takes a breather near a memorial for Derrick Engebretson, who disappeared last December near Rocky Point while on a Christmas tree-cutting expedition with his family.
With less now, searchers hope to find remains of boy lost in December
By JULIE SWENSEN
ROCKY POINT -- One searcher's dog was so exhausted after looking through snow for Derrick Engebretson last December that the dog had to be lifted into the car at the end of the day.
Five months later, the dog and handler Dave Marsh of Jackson County search and rescue are back, scouring the ground for the 8-year-old boy who disappeared Dec. 5 in the Winema National Forest near Pelican Butte while looking for a Christmas tree.
With much of the snow melted, volunteers resumed looking for the boy Saturday, hoping the spring thaw would reveal his remains so he can be brought home.
"Bring some closure to the family. That's what we're hoping," Klamath County County Sheriff Carl Burkhart said.
About 88 people showed up to look for Derrick Saturday morning, coming from Douglas, Josephine, Jackson, Lane and Klamath counties. There were also 14 dogs, including some brought in from Portland and California.
Starting where Derrick was last seen, they're looking in an area three miles long and half a mile wide, up to the east side of Pelican Butte and down to West Side Road. The search plots are segregated by twine, which teenagers from the Lane County Explorer Post spread 600 feet apart for dogs to zigzag between. Snow still remains, and some of the Explorers spreading the twine fell up to their waists in it.
"I don't doubt that we've walked over where he is a dozen times," Burkhart said. Dog experts told him in December that the snow was too deep, and with so many people trying to help last winter, it was difficult for the dogs to work.
Another searcher combing the ground again is Jay Darby of Jackson County search and rescue, who spent seven days in December looking for Derrick. She said searchers are working to systematically eliminate areas where they know Derrick isn't. But they can't rule out areas still snow-covered, where drifts are 3 feet deep in some spots.
"We're just not finding anything," Darby said.
None of Derrick's clothes. Not his hatchet, which he was carrying.
"It's very frustrating for the family, and it's frustrating for us, too," said Darby.
As she searched, she alternated between her golden retriever and her flat-coated retriever to let the dogs rest. She changed her socks -- wet from the snow -- and was getting ready to head out again.
"We honestly thought we would find him this morning," Darby said. "You get to the point of, where do you look next?"
Burkhart said the searchers would probably break camp this afternoon or evening. If they don't find him by then, the sheriff said, the search will be suspended, but not closed.
"It will always be open until we find some evidence of where the boy is," Burkhart said.
Copyright © The Mail Tribune 1999, Medford, Oregon USA