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Body Found: Elderly Man Dies of Cold & Starvation After Surviving Two Months in Oregon Woods


"Heavy snow. Snowed in."

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The body of a man was found in his pickup truck on a mountain road, along with a calendar he kept of his ordeal for nearly 70 days, authorities said Friday.

The Linn County sheriff’s office said the log kept by Jerry McDonald showed he became stranded on Feb. 14.

The entry read: “Heavy snow. Snowed in.”

His first log entry was Feb. 7, indicating he had been in the area for a week before he became stuck. The last entry was on April 15, about 60 days later.

A U.S. Forest Service survey crew found his body Thursday in a sleeping bag in the back of his 1997 GMC pickup truck on a one-lane dirt road about four miles from Marion Forks. The forest service road is in the remote foothills of the Cascade Range, about 70 miles east of Salem.

By late February, McDonald was detailing the weather and repeating his location, “Horn Rd.,” daily.

“The road Mr. McDonald was on is in a mountainous area of east Linn County and the way in or out would have been impassable once it snowed,” said Sheriff Tim Mueller. “There were no indications that he had attempted to walk out of the area.”

McDonald was carrying $5,000 in cash. There were no signs of foul play and he had not been reported missing.

Deputies said McDonald had warm clothing and water but no food or cell phone.

The calendar showed that he scrawled brief notes about the weather daily. “Snowed 1 foot night,” he wrote on March 15.

He marked April 12 as the day his motor vehicle registration expired.

The discovery of McDonald’s body came nearly a week after a Canadian woman who had gone missing with her husband in Oregon was found alive in a stranded van in a remote part of northeastern Nevada. Officials have not yet found Rita Chretien’s husband, Albert, who had set off on foot weeks earlier in search of help.

There have been several cases of motorists getting stranded on remote roads in the back woods of Oregon during the past couple of years. In 2006, San Francisco journalist James Kim died of hypothermia after he, his wife and two children became stranded in Oregon’s southern mountains.

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