By: Lt. Bryan Husband, Search and Rescue Coordinator
Location: Wickiup Reservoir
Rescued Subject: Nicholas Casey 69 year old male, Bend, OR
On 09/10/20, at about 10:06pm, 9-1-1 Dispatch received a call from Nancy Capell, who reported her husband, Nicholas Casey, was overdue from a trip to Wickiup Reservoir. Casey had taken his 14' skiff with electric trolling motor to the reservoir to fish earlier in the day. Capell reported Casey had called her from his boat on the water at about 7:23pm, telling her he'd call when he got back to shore and had loaded up the boat on the trailer. Capell never heard back from her husband.
Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Patrol Deputies responded to the Wickiup Reservoir area as well as initiated a cell phone ping to locate Casey. Casey's cell phone carrier advised the phone had been turned off and phone activity from earlier in the day did not provide usefel ping information. At about 12:03am, DCSO Patrol Deputies located Casey's vehicle and boat trailer at the Wickiup Butte boat launch, but Casey nor his boat, were there. DCSO Patrol Deputies then requested assistance from the DCSO Search and Rescue Unit.
One DCSO Special Services Deputy and nine DCSO SAR Volunteers responded to the boat launch area to begin their search on the water. Search teams consisted of DCSO SAR Swiftwater and Medical Team members. Due to the reduced level of Wickiup Reservoir (approximately 3% capacity), DCSO's larger jet boats were not able to be used on this mission. DCSO SAR Swiftwater Team members utilized their 12' Achilles raft with outboard motor to begin their search. Conditions were extremely smoky with visibility being about 15-20'. Sandbars and exposed stumps, due to low water levels, also caused additional challenges.
DCSO SAR Swiftwater team members located Casey in his boat at about 5:05am, a little over one mile from the boat launch. Casey was in good condition and did not require medical attention. Casey told rescuers that heavy smoke had blown into the area in the evening time, causing him to lose sight of landmarks. Casey became disoriented and began traveling the opposite direction of the boat launch by accident. As temperatures became cooler, Casey utilized his boat oars to row in an effort to stay warm. DCSO SAR team members then towed Casey and his boat back to the boat launch. Other than being a little cold, Casey was in good condition, refused further medical attention and was released to drive home on his own.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office would like to warn those considering recreating in these smoky conditions. Visibility, as well as air quality, are poor and pose extra challenges. Stay indoors if possible and consider additional navigation aids if having to travel in these conditions.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is a full service agency that oversees the adult jail, provides patrol, criminal investigations, civil process and search and rescue operations. Special units include SWAT, Street Crimes, Marine Patrol, ATV Patrol, Forest Patrol, along with six K9 teams. Founded in 1916 and today led by your duly elected Sheriff L. Shane Nelson, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office serves the nearly 190,000 residents in Deschutes County. The agency has 230 authorized and funded personnel, which includes 187 sworn employees who provide services to the 3,055 square miles of Deschutes County.