Man Dies After Two Months Stuck in Snowdrift

Jerry William McDonald

The body of a man found by forest service workers on Thursday on a back road near Marion Forks is that of 68-year-old Jerry William McDonald, the Linn County, Oregon Sheriff’s Office has announced. An autopsy showed that McDonald’s death was consistent with starvation and/or hypothermia. McDonald was identified using fingerprints.

“It appears he was camping there to start with,” said Sheriff Tim Mueller. McDonald was in a sleeping bag in the bed of a pickup. He had apparently become stuck in the snow in February. The road out would have been impassable in snowy conditions, the sheriff said, and there was no sign McDonald tried to walk out.

McDonald scribbled short entries on a homemade calendar, noting the weather and the number of days he’d been there. He appears to have arrived on Feb. 7, and notes getting snowed in on Feb. 14. He also wrote reminders to himself, such as “motor vehicle registration expires” on April 12 and “can camp at Powers for 20 d.” on April 18.

He may have run out of food on March 16, where it reads “No Fo1” and is labelled day 38. The next day says “No Fo2,” followed by “No F3” the day after that. The last entry is on April 15. He wrote “rain” and labelled it 68. Detectives say McDonald was estranged from his family. He has a son living in West Linn. The son told detectives he hadn’t talked to his father in 30 years. Nobody had reported him missing.


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