Assault suspect, 3-year-old airlifted to hospital

Authorities responded to an assault call Thursday morning, leading to a pursuit.

Posted: Nov 22, 2019 8:08 AM
Updated: Nov 23, 2019 1:25 PM

OAKRIDGE, Ore. -- An assault suspect and his 3-year-old son were airlifted from a remote section of dense, hilly terrain to an undisclosed hospital on Friday, the Lane County Sheriff's Office said.

Travis Gerlits, 41, and his son were found safe earlier in the day.

The search kicked off Thursday morning after deputies responded to an assault call near Oakridge. The alleged assault took place in the 77000 block of Brock Road northeast of Oakridge.

A neighbor in the area said she knows the alleged victim, who has a child with Gerlits. She told KEZI 9 News the victim is physically OK but distraught. 

She told KEZI 9 News that the victim went to the Cottage Grove hospital to be with her 3-year-old son. She said the victim and Gerlits do not live together.  


Gerlits allegedly led police on a low-speed pursuit to the Brice Creek area of the forest after the reported assault. Authorities found his car on a nearby forest service road. Several law enforcement agencies began a search of the Brice Creek area that included airplanes and a mobile command center.

Oakridge resident Rob Henderson said the terrain made the search difficult.

“There's a billion roads up there… so many directions you can go. You can drive from here to Roseburg on backroads. So there's a lot of different ways you can go,” Henderson said.

A local resident tells KEZI 9 News he is shocked this happened but is glad everyone is okay. 

"I don't see that kind of stuff happening around here it's a very quiet neighborhood we have a very close knit group of people who live here and own property and they are outstanding good citizens," a local resident said. 

Officials said the father and son were very cold when they were rescued, but they are going to be okay. 

"What we do know is both are able to communicate were told the youngster was standing up moving around and crying and the adult was able to communicate with officers," Sheriff Cliff Harrold with the Lane County Sheriff's Office. 

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office said the search area was heavily wooded and steep area. Cold temperatures and spotty communications also complicated the search.

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