Sheriff’s deputies seek missing hiker in rugged terrain

Linn County Sheriff’s deputies continued an intense search effort Sunday on Mount Jefferson for a Salem man who was reported to have fallen on the mountain.

According to Undersheriff Paul Timm, just after 11:46 a.m. on Friday, July 23, Linn County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch received information regarding a climber falling during a descent on Mount Jefferson.  Marion County Sheriff’s Office received the initial information and started sending resources to the area and planning for a rescue.

Linn County deputies responded as well and have led the search efforts with the Linn County Search and Rescue Team. Areas of Mount Jefferson often receive a multi-county response, due to the resources needed and county borders in the area.

Deputies learned Steven Van Pelt, 33, of Salem was descending the 10,495-foot mountain when he fell among extreme mountainous terrain. A witness described losing sight of Van Pelt after he fell several hundred feet.

Deputies have called for help from multiple teams throughout Oregon as teams exhaust themselves in the search effort. Corvallis Mountain Rescue, Eugene Mountain Rescue, Deschutes Mountain Rescue and Portland Mountain Rescue have all responded to the area for the search effort, Timm said. Multiple flights have been conducted by LifeFlight and the United States Army National Guard through the days following the initial report. 

A large search effort continues after multiple days, using multiple rescue teams responding to the area. The area is extremely dangerous and requires technical mountaineers to traverse the mountainside, Timm said.

Van Pelt had not yet been located due to the terrain consisting of snow, cliffs, large boulders, crevices and rock scree, he said Sunday. 

Linn County Sheriff’s Office have also been assisted by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon Emergency Management, Idanha Fire Department and Detroit Fire Department.