The body of long-time Gold Beach resident William Turner, 88, was found Sunday in the shallow water of Riley Creek, about 150 yards from the hospital he had walked away from the day before.
A search and rescue team found his body about 24 hours after he was first reported missing, said Gold Beach Police Chief Dixon Andrews. The cause of death was unknown pending an autopsy, which was scheduled for Tuesday.
“This is not the outcome we hoped for; I wish it had turned out differently,” Andrews said. “So many people, especially the family, were searching all night for him.”
Authorities first heard about Turner at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, when his family called 911 to report that he had walked away from his Nesika Beach home. The family explained that Turner suffered from dementia, Andrews said.
Turner was found hours later in a vehicle at Kissing Rock at the south end of Gold Beach, where a woman who had given Turner a ride called 911 to report that she couldn’t get him to exit her car.
Turner promised authorities and his family, which had arrived at the scene, that he would leave the vehicle if the woman drove him to Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach. The woman drove him there and Turner accompanied his family into the hospital.
Later that evening, the hospital staff called 911 to report that Turner, had slipped away from his family and his hospital room using a rear, unguarded door. His family at the hospital searched the area in and around the facility without luck, Andrews said.
Gold Beach Police officers, with help from family members and Curry County Sheriff’s deputies, began searching the area for Turner. They checked local motels and restaurants to see if he had used his credit card or was looking for a place to sleep overnight.
At one point, authorities receives a report of a man matching Turner’s description spotted at McKay’s Market a few blocks away, Andrews said.
“The thought was, he was trying to hitch a ride again,” he said.
Turner was not located and the search continued into the night without success.
The effort continued Sunday morning, with members of the county’s Search and Rescue joining in. One team of searchers checked an extremely steep, brush-covered area of Riley Creek directly behind the hospital.
Searchers found some of Turner’s clothes along the low-flowing creek and a short time later discovered Turner’s body laying face up in shallow water, Andrews said.