Mushroom pickers found alive after 6 days

  • Sat Feb 4th, 2012 3:49pm
  • News

By Nigel Duara Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — A couple and their adult son were found injured but alive Saturday in Southern Oregon, six days after they disappeared from their campsite to go mushroom picking.

Curry County Sheriff John Bishop said Belinda and Daniel Conne, both 47, and their 25-year-old son, Michael, were found in the woods near Gold Beach.

Bishop said one family member suffered a back injury, and another had a broken ankle, but he says he didn’t know which person suffered which injury.

The family was airlifted from the area by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter and taken to Curry General Hospital in Gold Beach, where they will be interviewed by authorities. A nursing supervisor said Saturday afternoon the family members were in a doctor’s care and were unavailable for comment.

The search had focused on a 4-square-mile area. Bishop said the family was in the search area but likely kept moving, making the search for them more difficult.

“We were actually right near them all three days” of the search, Bishop said. In the area’s canyons, “you think people can hear you, but they can’t.”

Before their discovery, the family was last seen Sunday at their campsite on the Rogue River. They later failed to return to a camping trailer where they left two dogs. Their Jeep was found on a logging road.

Searchers recovered a can of Pepsi, mushroom-picking buckets and toilet paper on Friday while searching the area of rugged coastal forest. The search involved three Southern Oregon counties and one county in California.

Joe Dykes, who works at the Huntley Park campsite where the family was staying, said Belinda and Daniel Conne arrived at the campsite in July after moving there from Oklahoma. Their son arrived later.

Belinda Conne works at the Jot’s Resort as a housekeeper, where motel owner Virginia McKinney said the Connes were preparing to rent a home in Gold Beach before the disappearance.

McKinney said Belinda told her she always wanted to live on the Oregon coast, and finally left Oklahoma last year with the intention of settling down.

The area is in rugged country riddled with a maze of logging roads in the Klamath Mountains where people frequently get lost or stranded. In 2006, a San Francisco family was stranded in a snowstorm on a logging road about 35 miles northeast of the search area for the Connes. James Kim died of hypothermia trying to hike out, but his wife and children were rescued.