Hiker's Body Recovered After Three Years

On September 3rd, 2019, Marion County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue coordinated the recovery of a hiker who had been reported as missing since July 30th, 2016. The hiker, 21-year-old Riley Zickel, was originally reported as missing after not returning from the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area following what was intended to be an overnight hike.

Search and Rescue teams from the Sheriff’s Office and multiple other agencies spent 7 days searching for Zickel before search efforts were suspended on August 6th, 2016. During those 7 days, more than 340 people covered over 350 square miles in the Willamette National Forest around Mount Jefferson. In total, approximately 5,000 hours were dedicated to search efforts to locate Zickel.

Approximately 3 weeks ago the Marion County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by climbers who believed they had located Zickel's body in a glacial area above Jefferson Park on Mt. Jefferson. The area where he was located is extremely steep with loose rocks and rock avalanches, making this an extremely challenging recovery effort. Marion County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue partnered with Corvallis Mountain Rescue, the Civil Air Patrol, and the United States Forest Service to plan the today’s recovery mission.

The missing hiker’s father, Robin Zickel, traveled to Oregon from California to be present for the recovery mission. Robin Zickel was at the trailhead when searchers brought his son out of the Jefferson Wilderness Area.

Marion County Sheriff Joe Kast stated, “We are grateful to the many organizations that helped make today’s recovery of Mr. Zickel possible. Without their contributions, we would not have been able to bring closure to the Zickel family after these three long years.”

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