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Fisherman who became lost in smoke rescued at Wickiup Reservoir

Boater smoke rescue Wickup Reservoir 911
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue swiftwater team raft was used to find Wickiup Reservoir fisherman who became lost, disoriented in smoke

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A fisherman who became lost on Wickiup Reservoir after thick smoke settled into the region Thursday evening was rescued early Friday by Deschutes County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, deputies said.

Deschutes County 911 dispatch received a call just after 10 p.m. from a woman who said her husband, a 69-year-old Bend man, was overdue from a fishing trip to Wickiup Reservoir earlier in the day on his 14-foot skiff with an electric trolling motor, said Lt. Bryan Husband SAR coordinator.

The woman said he’d called from his boat just before 7:30 p.m., saying he’d call when he got back to shore and loaded up the boat on his trailer.

Patrol deputies responded to the reservoir and began a cellphone ping to find the man, Husband said, but his cellphone carrier advised it had been turned off and the activity from earlier in the day did not provide useful ping information.

Just after midnight, deputies found the man’s vehicle and trailer at the Wickiup Butte boat launch, but no sign of him, Husband said.

Deputies then requested assistance from SAR, and a special services deputy and nine SAR volunteer responded to begin a search, including swift water and medical team members.

Husband said the low level of the reservoir – about 3% capacity – prevented use of the agency’s larger jet boats. Instead, they used a 12-foot raft with outboard motor to begin searching in extremely smoky conditions, with visibility of about 15-20 feet. Sandbars and stumps exposed by low water levels posted more challenges.

SAR swift water team members found the man just after 5 a.m., a little over a mile from the boat launch, in good condition.

The fisherman told rescuers heavy smoke blew into the area in the evening, causing him to lose sight of landmarks. He became disoriented and began accidentally heading away from the boat launch. When temperatures cooled, he used his boat’s oars to row, in an effort to stay warm.

SAR team members towed the fisherman and his boat back to the launch. Husband said he was fine, though a bit cold, and was released to drive home.

Article Topic Follows: Deschutes County

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Barney Lerten

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