Multnomah Co. Sheriff's Office
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News Release
Searchers locate missing Portland hiker alive near Horsetail Falls trail, now reunited with family - 05/10/21

Search and rescue crews located missing Portland hiker Joe Dean, 71, at approximately 8:54 a.m. Monday, May 10. Dean was found near the Horsetail Falls Trail, approximately one-half mile from the trailhead. Rescuers reported he was conscious and breathing, and that they were providing first aid. Additional rescuers and medical personnel deployed from the command post with a wheeled Stokes basket. Dean was placed into the basket and guided down the rocky trail by rescuers to the parking lot. At 10:55 a.m., rescuers reached the trailhead, where he was reunited with family. Dean was transported to a local hospital for further medical evaluation. He was talking and able to walk with assistance.

Dean told deputies he planned to hike a 12-mile loop from Horsetail Falls, along the Rock of Ages Ridge and return via Oneonta Creek Trail. About half way into the hike, he lost the trail. Both the Oneonta and Horsetail Creek drainages suffered significant fire damage during the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017. The trails in these areas are not maintained, indistinguishable and overgrown. This area has been closed since the fire.

On Saturday afternoon, Dean sent a text message to his wife stating he was lost. He was reported missing at around 8:33 p.m. Saturday. Based on his age and location, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) activated MCSO Search and Rescue. By 11 p.m., a hasty team of 16 searchers headed out on the trail to begin searching for Dean.

On Sunday, approximately 65 search and rescue members from multiple organizations combed miles of trail and rugged wilderness for Dean. A drone and an airplane performed multiple aerial searches. Using cell phone data, searchers were able to identify a general search area. Based on this data, and statements made by family and friends, SAR members believed Dean was alive and mobile. Despite treacherous trail conditions, SAR members forged ahead and continued their search efforts. On Monday morning, a team located Dean near the Horsetail Creek trail.

Dean also reported that when he became lost, he followed Horsetail Creek downward, hiking during the day and stopping at night. While Dean was not prepared to stay overnight, he was carrying thermal leggings, a jacket and a balaclava. Dean was able to ration snacks, but did run out of drinking water.

We want to recognize all of the search and rescue members, many of whom are volunteers, from the many agencies and organizations that assisted in the successful multi-day search, including:

While spring and summer-like weather continues, many trails in the Columbia River Gorge are still snow covered and have not been cleared or maintained since last fall. We urge hikers, no matter their experience, to head warnings and hike only open trails for their safety and the safety of others. Visit to view a list of open trails and latest trail conditions. It is recommended you create a hiking plan and share the plan with a friend or family member. Lastly, we recommend if you become lost, to call or text for help, if possible, and stay put. Moving can make it more challenging for searchers to locate you. In Multnomah County, you can text 911 to report an emergency.

Before you leave home, it is suggested that you always carry a first aid kit in your car and bring the Ten Essentials with you on the trail, even if you are only going out for the day.

Ten Essentials for hiking:

  • Navigation: map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger
  • Headlamp or flashlight: plus, extra batteries
  • Sun protection: sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen
  • First aid: including foot care and insect repellent (as needed)
  • Knife: plus, a gear repair kit
  • Fire: matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove
  • Shelter: carried at all times, (can be a light emergency bivy)
  • Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation
  • Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation
  • Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue program is a 100% volunteer organization, comprised of approximately 50 very dedicated, trained volunteers, including both youth and adults. MCSO SAR is recruiting new members. Click here if you would like to learn more about MCSO SAR.

Prior press releases can be viewed by clicking here.

This is expected to be the final news release. ###

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