Search locates body of missing woman
- Holly M. Gill
- Madras Pioneer - News
>In Crooked River canyonThe search for a missing woman turned tragic Monday, when a deputy from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office spotted the woman's body in the Crooked River canyon.
According to Capt. Marc Heckathorn, of the sheriff's office, Valerie McKie, 38, of Bend, was reported missing on Sunday, June 24, at about 3:35 p.m.
With assistance from a cell phone company, investigators tracked McKie's cell phone to the Opal Springs area west of Culver. Despite a thorough search of the Crooked River area upstream from Opal Springs, a multi-agency team was unable to locate McKie or her vehicle Sunday evening.
On Monday around 8 a.m., both Jefferson and Deschutes County deputies, as well as the Crooked River Ranch Fire Department and a ranger representing the Bureau of Land Management resumed searching for the missing woman.
A Deschutes County deputy discovered McKie's vehicle -- a 1997 Toyota RAV4 with a bike rack -- around 9:30 a.m. at the end of Horny Hollow Trail, a residential road at Crooked River Ranch on the west side of the canyon.
The road is about 2 miles across the canyon from the GPS coordinates given to the sheriff's office by the cell phone carrier, according to Sheriff Jim Adkins.
Once the vehicle was found, he said, "Marc used his binoculars to look from Opal Springs over to the other side," and located McKie's body about 200 feet down the steep canyon wall from the trail at around 11 a.m.
Adkins said that McKie's bike was found on the trail. "She had apparently parked her bike and gone for a walk," he added.
The CRR Rope Rescue team recovered McKie's body. Her family was notified and she was transported to Bel-Air Colonial Funeral Home in Madras.
JCSO is investigating McKie's death, but Heckathorn believes it was "the result of a tragic accident."
Heckathorn urged people enjoying outdoor recreation "to let someone know where you're going and when you're returning, and to keep a safe distance from any canyon rim."