ROSEBURG, Ore. – After a Roseburg man was found alive after 17 days in the Umpqua National Forest, wilderness experts say they’re shocked he made it out alive.
On Sunday, Douglas County Search and Rescue conducted a mission in the area of Calf Creek to find Harry Burleigh, 69. They said they were following up after Burleigh’s fishing gear was found last weekend. Additional search and rescue crews were called in from Jackson, Lake and Siskiyou counties.
After hours of searching, crews found a shelter southwest of a different shelter they found last weekend. They called out to Burleigh and he responded.
Steven Beri, the acting public affairs officer for the Umpqua National Forest, told KEZI 9 News that they’re so grateful Burleigh was found safe and sound. They said this happened because search and rescue teams never gave up on him.
“For some folks that would’ve been extremely difficult, but for others it would’ve been a day in the park,” said Beri. “So we’re just glad he was able to do this because by any standards this is a feat.”
Mark Winert, owner of Lifesongs Wilderness Adventure based out North Bend, said he believes that Burleigh did everything right.
Officials said Burleigh was originally in the area because he went camping. Winert said he believes Burleigh made do with what he had to survive.
He also said he believes Burleigh kept a positive mindset while waiting for search and rescue.
“He probably thought about his loved ones, his family, people that he cared about, his wife, his community,” said Winert. “He probably felt pretty self-assured and had a very positive mental attitude about it.”
However, Winert said he hopes this situation encourages people to do a little extra preparation before they head into the forest.
He said the most important thing to do is to leave a note with a location of where your going, and stick to the route you say you’re going down.
“When search and rescue is looking for you, they don’t know,” he said. “All they know is that you went from point A to point B and you were supposed to be back at point A. if you move from your route and take off without anyone knowing, then it’s really hard to find you.”
Burleigh was first reported missing after he did not return from a camping trip near Twin Lakes in early May.
KEZI 9 News reached out to Burleigh’s wife but never heard back. However, according to a Facebook post on Sunday night, she said Burleigh is currently in a hospital in the Eugene-Springfield area. She said he is coherent and emotional.