Searchers Run Out Of Hope For Boy
Posted: 12/13/02 8:23 am
Searchers run out of hope for boy
photo by Jim Craven
Family, friends and volunteers warm themselves around a fire Friday night after another fruitless day of searching for 8-year-old Derrick Engebretson.
Shelter found, but no sign of 8-year-old
By BILL KETTLER
December 12, 1998
ROCKY POINT -- Rescuers gave up hope Friday of finding Derrick Engebretson alive, but his mother still believes searchers can find the 8-year-old boy who has been missing in snowy woods for six days.
"I'm very hopeful," said Derrick's mother, Lori Engebretson, as she sat by a warming fire in a cold evening drizzle. "I know we're going to find him. And I know we'll find him alive."
Derrick was separated from his father and paternal grandfather when a snowstorm blew in while they were hunting for a Christmas tree on Dec. 5.
More than 100 volunteers spent Friday walking through the Winema National Forest north of Rocky Point looking for the boy. They probed the snow with sticks and ski poles, but found nothing.
"We all feel like we're in a (body) recovery mode," said Klamath County Sheriff Carl Burkhart. "We're going to try to do one more full-scale search on Saturday."
Deep snow and thick underbrush made the work slow and tiring, said Ken Rosenbaum, a search volunteer from Prospect.
"It's rough as a cob out there," he said.
Searcher Rick Lampkin of Gold Hill said it was hard to imagine the boy could survive six days without food or shelter in temperatures that have fallen below zero.
"It would be pretty tough going," said Lampkin, "for a little guy like that."
As daylight faded, searchers found a crude shelter of fir boughs under several fallen logs about a mile from where Derrick was last seen. Tracking dogs were brought to the site in the dark, but found no scent of the boy.
"It's frustrating to find it this late in the day," said Bud Wilson, Klamath County's search and rescue coordinator. Wilson said the shelter could have been made by someone other than Derrick earlier in the winter, but searchers were planning to comb the area again today.
"It's another one of those possibilities," said Wilson. "We're not letting any of those go unexplored."
While Klamath County prepared to wind down its search, Derrick's family made plans to continue their own search. The Engebretson clan organized their own search when they grew frustrated with the county's effort, and, for the past several days his uncles have been leading search parties into the woods.
"We know we can find him with the help of all these people," said Ben Davis, Derrick's maternal grandfather.
"Most of them are family and friends, but a lot of them are just people who have come up to help us."
Davis himself spent several hours walking along nearby creeks searching for his grandson.
"We had a psychic lady call," he said. "She told us he was covered in a coat by a creek."
Derrick's father, Robert K. Engebretson, was confined to bed with pneumonia after five days of constant searching. Engebretson rested in a motor home at the family's search camp a few miles north of Rocky Point Resort.
"He wouldn't stay in the hospital," said Davis.
As night settled around the family camp, Lori Engebretson said more volunteers would join the family's search during the weekend. Students from Klamath County schools were expected to join the family's search today, and as many as 300 volunteers from Jeld-Wen Corp., where her husband works, were expected on Sunday.
"People are coming from everywhere," she said. "Lots of friends and family and people who don't even know us, but they're turning into friends."
Lori Engebretson said she would continue to look for her son after Klamath County's search winds down.
"I know there's going to be a time when everybody else is going to have to quit," she said. "If we haven't found him, I'm not leaving. I'm staying here."
Copyright © The Mail Tribune 1998, Medford, Oregon USA