Curry County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue volunteers spent nine hours Tuesday retrieving the body of 70-year-old Steven Chamberlain, which a group of motorcyclists found about 3.5 miles up the Illinois River trailhead just past Buzzard’s Roost.
According to Sheriff John Ward, the sheriff’s office received a call from Cougar Lane Resort in Agness at 1:50 p.m. reporting the discovery. There was no indication of foul play.
Chamberlain, who lived near the Illinois River trailhead in Agness, left his house at about 2 p.m. Monday after telling friends he was going on an overnight hike and camping trip.
Search and Rescue Coordinator Sgt. Ted Heath sent a deputy and a Search and Rescue (SAR) member to hike the trail to find the man. Several others gathered at the trailhead with equipment to assist in the recovery.
Due to the narrow, rugged, steep trail and the distance into the backcountry, SAR members used a motorized wheelbarrow cart and a single-wheeled patient carrier to get Chamberlain’s body back to the trailhead.
After nine hours, at 12:30 a.m., SAR members made it to the trailhead. His body was turned over to Redwood Memorial in Brookings, whose officials said it appears Chamberlain died of natural causes. The next of kin has been notified.
“I would like to thank each SAR member and the deputies who assisted in this very difficult recovery,” Ward said. “The Illinois River trail is not well-maintained and the terrain was rugged, narrow and steep. Without these dedicated men and women to do these difficult things, there would be no closure for the families. My hat is off to these unpaid professional SAR members.”