After 17 days lost in a forest, missing Oregon fisherman found safe

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Search and rescue crews found 69-year-old Harry Burleigh safe in the Umpqua National Forest on May 23, 2021. Burleigh had been missing since he went fishing at Twin Lakes on May 6, 2021. (Photo courtesy Douglas County Sheriff’s Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After 17 nights lost in the woods, a missing 69-year-old man was found Sunday afternoon in Oregon’s Umpqua National Forest. 

Search and rescue crews found 69-year-old Harry Burleigh safe in the Umpqua National Forest on May 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy Douglas County Sheriff’s Office)

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Harry Burleigh’s wife reported him missing Friday, May 7, after he didn’t return from a fishing trip to Twin Lakes the previous day. 

Search and rescue crews combed the forest in search of Burleigh. They found his vehicle on May 8 at the trailhead. It wasn’t until May 16 that they made another discovery — a makeshift shelter and a tackle box belonging to Burleigh in the Calf Creek area, the sheriff’s office said. 

Burleigh, however, was still nowhere to be found. 

For another week, search crews remained in the Calf Creek area. Then on Sunday at around 3 p.m., a team found another shelter southwest of the first shelter crews found the previous weekend. 

The search crews called out for Burleigh and he responded. 

Search and rescue crews found 69-year-old Harry Burleigh safe in the Umpqua National Forest on May 23, 2021. (Photo courtesy Douglas County Sheriff’s Office)

Burleigh was found walking. He complained of minor pain, but he was in stable condition. 

A helicopter hoisted Burleigh from the location, and another later transported him to a hospital for evaluation.  

“This was the outcome we all have been looking for in this case. It is because of our determined Search and Rescue Teams and the partnerships we have with other SAR teams from around the state, that Mr. Burleigh has been reunited with his family this evening,” said Sgt. Brad O’Dell, with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Since Burleigh was reported missing, 16 local, state and federal crews and agencies, included the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Forest Service, assisted the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. 

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