Sheriff’s Office suspends search for missing climber

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office has suspended the search for a missing climber on Mount Jefferson, according to a news release issued Thursday, July 29.

Steven Van Pelt, 33, of Salem, had been missing since after 11:30 a.m. Friday, July 23, when he fell during his descent down the 10,495-foot mountain in the Willamette National Forest. An eyewitness describes losing sight of Van Pelt after he fell several hundred feet.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office received the initial information and started sending resources to the area to plan for a rescue.

Linn County deputies responded as well and 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.

Six mountain rescue teams were dispatched in the effort over extreme mountainous terrain with glacier drifts, falling rocks and debris. The search was suspended, according to the Sheriff’s Office, because “the risk of continuing would jeopardize additional lives.”

The agency has been in contact with Van Pelt’s family, who are aware of the decision, Sheriff Jim Yon reported.

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted in the six-day search by the Marion and Benton County sheriff’s offices, Corvallis Mountain Rescue, Eugene Mountain Rescue, Deschutes Mountain Rescue, Portland Mountain Rescue, Hood River Mountain Rescue, Oregon Emergency Management, United States Army National Guard, Air Force Reserve (304th), LifeFlight, the Idanha Fire Department, the Detroit Fire Department, Amateur Radio Emergency Services and the United States Forest Service.

– The New Era