A local woman is praising law enforcement and search and rescue volunteers for their work in finding her 74-year-old husband after he went missing earlier this month.
The Curry County Sheriff's office received a call from Stephanie Riddle of Gold Beach at 11:25 a.m. April 3. She said her husband, Charles Riddle, had been missing for nearly two hours, and he has a medical condition that puts him at greater risk for an accident.
Stephanie Riddle said her driveway was full of law enforcement vehicles and search and rescue teams just minutes after the call. Responders began combing the multi-acre property and the surrounding heavily-wooded area, with the help of drones and K-9 units.
To Riddle, it all felt like a bad dream, and as the search wore on, she started to dread the possible outcomes.
“He may have fallen off a cliff and really injured himself and couldn’t respond,” she said. “You hear stories of all these folks who’ve suffered and suffered through these long search and rescues, and many, many times they do not have a good outcome.”
Riddle asked Sheriff John Ward what would happen if they couldn’t find Charles that day, Ward replied they would have to start searching again in the morning, but they both knew the chances of finding him alive would be greatly reduced.
“This is nasty terrain... we sort of looked at each other without saying what we all feared,” said Riddle.
Eventually, the search moved off the property, and a command post was set up at Geisel Monument State Park, however, responders frequently checked in on Riddle.
Then at 5:20 p.m., nearly eight hours after Charles had gone missing, Stephanie saw a sheriff’s office vehicle speeding up her driveway. She knew something had happened.
“I saw Sheriff John Ward running toward the front door, so I ran toward him and I thought, ‘oh, something has happened,’” said Riddle. “He and I met upstairs and he told me the good news.”
The good news was her husband, Charles, had been found in a patch of thick bramble about a quarter mile from the house. He was showing signs of hypothermia and had some scratches, but was otherwise uninjured.
Since the rescue, Riddle said she has a deeper appreciation for law enforcement and search and rescue volunteers.
“These guys, they’re like Rambos. They’re so dedicated, this is what they live for. It’s amazing how dedicated they are. I really did not think there would be such an outpouring of support,” said Riddle.
Charles Riddle has made a full physical recovery and is safe at home. Additionally, Stephanie Riddle said he now wears an Apple Watch, so they can track him through GPS.