Man Who Disappeared on Fishing Trip Found Alive in the Wilderness

A man in Oregon who went missing in early May was found Sunday afternoon in stable condition after spending 17 nights in the wilderness of Douglas County.

Harry Burleigh, 69, a fisherman from Roseburg, was reported missing on May 7 after he didn't return home from a camping trip in the Toketee area of Douglas County. He was expected to arrive home on May 6 but failed to return.

He was believed to have attempted to walk into the lakes to fish before heading home, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

Burleigh was found this Sunday by Douglas County Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Calf Creek area after his fishing gear was discovered last weekend. SAR teams from Oregon's Jackson and Lake counties, as well as California's Siskiyou County, assisted in Sunday's search mission.

At around 3 p.m. local time, the Jackson County SAR team discovered a shelter located southwest of a makeshift shelter belonging to Burleigh that was found on May 16.

"The search crews called out to Mr. Burleigh who responded back. He was found to be walking and complaining of minor pain, but was in stable condition," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Burleigh was lifted from his location by a Brim Aviation helicopter and transported to a Lifeflight helicopter, which took him to a hospital for evaluation.

Sgt. Brad O'Dell from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said: "This was the outcome we all have been looking for in this case. It is because of our determined Search and Rescue Teams and the partnerships we have with other SAR teams from around the state, that Mr. Burleigh has been reunited with his family this evening.

"The Sheriff's Office wants to thank everyone who was involved in this mission," he added.

The search for Burleigh began in early May after he was reported missing by his wife at 10:15 pm on May 7. His vehicle was found the next day at the lower trailhead to Forest Service trail 1500, which leads into the Twin Lakes area.

The sheriff's office said in a statement at the time: "On Saturday, May 8, 2021, a deputy located Burleigh's vehicle at the Twin Lakes Trailhead. Burleigh had filled out a form and left it at the trailhead indicating he was entering the Twin Lakes area on Thursday, May 6, 2021 and intended to be out that evening."

Rescue teams searched the area at the time but found no signs of Burleigh until May 16 when searchers discovered "a makeshift shelter and a tackle box belonging to Burleigh in the Calf Creek area," the sheriff's office said at the time.

Burleigh's family and friends had left signs and food hoping he would find them, according to the sheriff's office, which shared an image of a sign that read: "Harry, stay here. Look for food cache (other side)" just above a tin of raisins.

Newsweek has contacted Douglas County Sheriff's Office and Douglas County Search and Rescue for comment.

Rescue crew on a Brim Aviation helicopter.
Search and rescue crew from Oregon's Jackson County exit a Brim Aviation helicopter after finding Harry Burleigh, who was reported missing on May 7. Douglas County Sheriff's Office