Searching for a Hatchet in Disappearance
Five years ago, an eight-year-old boy wandered into the woods near Pelican Butte – he never came back.
Derrick Engebretson disappeared on December 8th, 1998 when he was searching for a Christmas tree with his family. Hundreds of volunteer searchers turned out almost immediately, but they didn't find Derrick. On Saturday, searchers turned out again, this time with technology on their side – a technology that might eliminate one of the theories about derrick's disappearance.
When Derrick disappeared, this water was frozen over.
Derrick had a hatchet with him which, if he fell in the water, should still be at the bottom. Derrick’s father, Robert Engebretson said, "If we don't find the hatchet, we know that he didn't fall through the hole we did find." The hole in the ice remains a strong piece of evidence in Derrick's disappearance. According to Billy Crabtree with React of Oregon, "We know that there were foot tracks into the ice, and they were child size tracks, and there was a three foot hole in the ice, and no tracks leading away from the ice."
Several days passed before authorities searched the area around the hole in the ice, but it may have been too late. Reanna Holly, also with React of Oregon, stated, "The
longer you wait, the less evidence there could be."
Something as simple as finding a hatchet could finally bring a close to this case, but until that happens, there will always be doubt as to what happened to Derrick. His mother, Lori Engebretson stated, "He could still be on this mountain."
Even if the search for the hatchet is unsuccessful, Derrick's parents will be back: "We come out here quite a bit, to be a little closer to Derrick."
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