A Bend man spent a chilly night lost and alone in the snow, having gone missing Sunday morning while skiing at Mt. Bachelor before being found by rescuers late Monday morning.
Going on a tip from someone who’d seen footprints in the woods east of the mountain, searchers spotted Ryan Melrose DeYoung, 21, by helicopter at 11 a.m. Monday. He waved his arms to the helicopter as it passed overhead, and nearby rescuers on the ground made their way to him.
“He was cold, wet, dehydrated,” said Lt. Scott Shelton of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
After an ATV ride out of the woods, DeYoung was taken by a Sunriver Fire Department ambulance to St. Charles Bend. Shelton said DeYoung’s autism likely contributed to his becoming lost, saying the disorder can cause him to become disoriented. He was found about 1.5 miles from Mt. Bachelor’s Sunrise Lodge.
DeYoung was still at the hospital Monday night and was listed in good condition, a St. Charles nursing supervisor said.
An experienced skier, DeYoung set out Sunday morning with his father, Bruce DeYoung, of Bend, Shelton said. The pair, who have season passes, headed up the Sunrise Express lift to the top of the 9,068-foot mountain. From there they took off on their first run of the day, down the Cow’s Face on Mt. Bachelor’s back side. The run is a black diamond, or a difficult run for advanced skiers.
When Bruce DeYoung reached the bottom, he didn’t see his son, Shelton said, and he began searching for him. While Bruce DeYoung had a cellphone with him, Ryan did not, so the father checked the ski area lodges for his son. After about an hour of looking, Shelton said Bruce DeYoung contacted the Mt. Bachelor Ski Patrol, who looked for the missing skier for two hours, finding only some tracks leading past Mt. Bachelor’s east catchline, or the ski area’s boundary.
They called in Deschutes County Search and Rescue, which started an extensive search of the mountain Sunday afternoon. The search team included about 50 members Sunday and more than 100 Monday, Shelton said, with the Oregon National Guard, AirLink and Leading Edge Aviation helping with the search. The Leading Edge Aviation helicopter ended up finding DeYoung.
“This search has had five helicopters involved in it in the last 24 hours,” he said Monday afternoon.
On the ground, the search included teams of skiers, snowshoers, snowmobilers and ATVs. Along with Deschutes County Search and Rescue, the search involved employees and volunteers from Jefferson and Lane counties’ search crews, Portland Mountain Rescue and the U.S. Forest Service. Shelton said they looked for DeYoung throughout an extremely large search area.
“Basically all of Mount Bachelor,” he said.
DeYoung didn’t hunker down or build a snow cave Sunday night; instead, he stayed on the go.
“He just kept moving,” Shelton said. “We would have preferred if he had stayed still. It makes it hard to track someone who moves all night long.”
DeYoung wore a parka and ski pants through the ordeal.
“He was dressed for skiing, but I doubt he was prepared to be out after dark,” Sheriff’s Lt. Chad Davis said Sunday evening.
Temperatures in the area where DeYoung was found were close to freezing overnight, said George Perry, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Pendleton. The overnight low for a weather station northeast of Mount Bachelor was 28 degrees.
When rescuers reached DeYoung, they gave him dry clothes, Shelton said. Despite the night outside, and his being tired and cold, his spirits were up when he was found.
“He just wanted to go home,” Shelton said.
— Reporter: 541-617-7812, firstname.lastname@example.org