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Lost man safe after night in the woods

Curry County Sheriff’s officers Sunday found a 71-year-old Gold Beach man who’d been lost in the woods near the Oregon Redwood Trail for almost 24 hours.

The Sheriff’s Office received a call at 4:38 p.m. Saturday stating that John McDougal had become lost while hiking the trail with his wife, Donna. Sheriff’s personnel and Search and Rescue volunteers conducted a hasty search of the area, but were unable to find the man before darkness fell.

The trail is located four miles up Peavine Ridge off the Winchuck River Road.

Search crews resumed the search Sunday morning and found McDougal just after noon Sunday. It took them three hours to travel 2,000 feet through the steep terrain and dense foliage back to the well-marked trail. McDougal was reported to be exhausted after a cold night in the woods.

The Moser Creek drainage, where McDougal was found, is parallel to Peavine Ridge Road.

Search crews were able to use “sound sweeps” — horn blasts and whistles — in hopes of getting a response from the missing hiker.

McDougal said he heard horn blasts and yelled back. Search personnel said they heard what they thought might be someone yelling, so they continued the sound sweeps until the found the man.

Hikers are encouraged to carry emergency gear when they venture into the woods, said Sheriff John Bishop. The choice of what to carry is often determined by weather, the difficulty of the trail taken and individual needs.

“A whistle is a must,” Bishop said. “They’re lightweight and excellent for signalling one’s location. The shrill sound travels a long distance in the forest.”

Bishop also expressed his appreciation for the volunteer crew that responded to the incident.

“We can’t do this important public safety function without the help of the volunteers,” he said.

Search and Rescue volunteers train regularly for these kinds of missions; anyone interested in becoming a member can contact Lt. John Ward at 541-247-3320. 

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