Missing-hiker

A scenic area near the Drift Creek Falls trailhead. The body of a hiker was found in the area mid-March after he disappeared in January. (File photo)

The body of 49-year-old Adrian Alonzo Smith of Lincoln City was found and recovered by the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Search & Rescue team on March 20, two months after he was reported missing near the Drift Creek Falls trailhead on Jan. 19.

The sheriff’s office did not issue a press release at time of the discovery; the News-Times learned of it recently after being contacted by Smith’s family.

According to Senior Deputy Bruce McGuire, a hunter discovered Smith’s body on March 20 when they noticed a strange-looking object on a nearby hillside while scouting the area to set up trail cams. The hunter moved closer and used a pair of binoculars to identify the object as a body before contacting the sheriff’s office, which soon dispatched its search and rescue team.

McGuire said Smith was found near the spur of a defunct logging road near the trail and appeared to have fallen off a deceptively steep cliff, which McGuire said could have easily been mistaken for a more moderate incline.

“It appeared he had walked over too close to the edge of a cliff and possibly fell off of that cliff due to the condition he was found in that wilderness area,” McGuire said. “It’s possible he could have walked over there and just couldn’t see it was a cliff because it looked very deceptive.”

Smith was first reported missing after a friend dropped him off at the Drift Creek Falls Trailhead on Jan. 19. The friend became concerned when Smith didn’t show up for a scheduled pickup the following day and contacted authorities.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office soon organized a search but was unable to locate any sign of Smith until it received a tip on Jan. 26 reporting that Smith was spotted shirtless in an area near the trail, giving searchers an indication of his relative whereabouts.

Search and rescue personnel located an encampment assumed to have belonged to Smith on Jan. 30 near the area where he was last seen but could not locate Smith himself, and the search was suspended soon afterward due to weather conditions and a low chance that Smith would have been found alive.

“Food, water and other supplies appeared to have been untouched since before the recent snowfall began in the area on Jan. 26,” a Feb. 2 release regarding the suspension of the search reads. “The evidence, weather and condition of Smith’s camp led investigators to believe the probability of Smith’s survival is too low to continue sustained operations.”

Further search efforts bore no fruit until Smith’s body was discovered by a hunter on March 20.

Smith’s family contacted the News-Times on May 31 to note that there were multiple inconsistencies with the death certificate issued by the Oregon State Medical Examiner and the information the family received from authorities in Lincoln County regarding the circumstances of Smith’s death.

Attempts by News-Times staff to contact State Medical Examiner personnel responsible for the case were not returned by Tuesday’s publishing deadline.

Anyone with information relevant to the case can contact Senior Deputy Bruce McGuire at 541-270-3400 or sheriff’s office dispatch at 541-265-0777.

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