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Search called off for Portland hiker missing in Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area

COURTESY PHOTO - Riley ZikelAfter seven days of searching, the Marion County Sheriff's Office has called off the search for a Portland hiker missing in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness area.

Riley Zikel, 21, was last seen was last seen on the Pacific Crest Trail just north of Jefferson Park where he visited with another hiker on July 27. Zikel told friends he intended to return home the next day but has not been seen since. The search was launched after he was reported missing.

"It is a very difficult decision to withdraw resources from this search. Our SAR teams and staff worked tirelessly to find Mr. Zickel. We're very grateful for the assistance provided by our public safety partners, and our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Zickel's family," Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers says.

The decision to suspend the active search was made after exhausting all available leads, the MCSO says. Zickel's family members were present at the Command Post throughout the search and have been made aware of the decision to suspend the search.

According to the MCSO, over 340 searchers dedicated approximately 5000 hours to search 350 square miles of the Willamette National Forest north and south of Mt. Jefferson. The main focus of the search was the area between Mt. Jefferson, Jefferson Park, Park Butte and the surrounding areas. The area is heavily forested and has many ridges and valleys. Areas of snow complicated the search and, in spite of the snow, daytime temperatures occasionally reached 90 degrees. The elevation of the search area varied from 5000 feet to 7500 feet above sea level.

The Incident Commander, Sergeant Shane Burnham, directed the Marion County Search and Rescue Teams (SAR) and support personnel throughout the duration of the search. They were backed up by SAR teams from Deschutes County Sheriff's Office, Lane County Sheriff's Office, Linn County Sheriff's Office, Polk County Sheriff's Office, Benton County Sheriff's Office, Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Pacific NW SAR, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Corvallis Mountain Rescue, Mountain Wave, Warm Springs Police, Fire and Fish and Game, United States Forrest Service, the Portland Police Bureau, Detroit and Idanaha Fire District and the Oregon State Parks Department.

Salem based helicopters from the Oregon Army National Guard and Cessna 182 aircraft from the Civil Air Patrol flew daily above the search area, but were unable to spot any sign of Zickel. Hundreds of hikers were contacted during the search and missing person flyers were posted at trail heads along the Pacific Crest Trail as far south as Big Lake Youth Camp and north to Timberline Lodge.

The MCSO says the search for Zickel will remain open until he is found and it will respond to any new information regarding his whereabouts. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact our tip line at 503-584-SRCH or 503-584-7724.