UPDATE (Tuesday, July 19, 2022) -- BODY RECOVERED
On Monday, July 18, Clackamas Fire and Sandy Fire rescue crews recovered the body of 53-year-old Christopher Smaka after a 911 caller reported seeing a body on the river.
Just before 7:30 p.m., rescue crews from Clackamas Fire and Sandy Fire rafted to the location from Dodge Park to recover Mr. Smaka's body, which was floating in a deep-pool section of the Sandy River -- across the river from where searchers had located Mr. Smaka's belongings on July 12.
Crews then transported his body by raft to Oxbow Park, arriving there around 9:15 p.m.; his body was then turned over to the Clackamas County Medical Examiner’s Office for formal identification.
Earlier releases on this search operation are below.
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EARLIER (Thursday, July 14, 2022) -- SEARCH SUSPENDED
The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office has suspended search efforts for missing hiker Christopher Smaka, 53, of Portland.
Smaka was reported missing on July 12 after failing to return home from a planned day-hike in the Gordon Creek area. Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office deputies located Smaka’s vehicle parked on SE Gordon Creek Road near Corbett around 11 a.m., and activated a joint search mission with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
Over two dozen personnel from teams including the Green Hornets, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search & Rescue (MCSOSAR), Clackamas County Search & Rescue (CSAR) and Corbett Fire deployed to the area to join the search effort.
On July 12, approximately 2 miles away from his vehicle, along the banks of the Sandy River, Searchers located Smaka’s personal belongings, including his identification and a pair of shoes. Teams then searched the riverbank and deployed kayaks and drones in an extensive effort to locate him, without success.
The search continued on Wednesday, July 13. At 9 a.m., members of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Dive/Rescue Team hiked their gear to the banks of the Sandy River to conduct an underwater search. (Photos from this deployment are here.) At 5:30 p.m., after the conclusion of the Dive Team mission, ground crews and search dogs deployed into the field and a Hood River County Sheriff's Office airplane conducted an aerial search. Efforts to locate Mr. Smaka were again unsuccessful. After searchers returned to the command post at 11 p.m., Search & Rescue Coordinators made the tough decision to suspend search operations at this time.
Multnomah County's initial July 12 news release on the search effort is reproduced below.
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Deputy John Wildhaber
Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office
Public Information Unit
EARLIER (Tuesday, July 12, 2022) -- News release from Multnomah County Sheriff's Office:
Search and rescue teams search for missing Portland man near Corbett
On Tuesday, July 12 around 10:30 a.m., the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) received a report of a missing man who reportedly went hiking and did not return home.
It was reported that 53-year-old Christopher Smaka left his Portland residence on Monday morning to hike in the area of Gordon Creek. Smaka was not planning to camp overnight.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies located Smaka’s vehicle parked on SE Gordon Creek Road near Corbett around 11 a.m.
Based on the time elapsed since he left home and forecasted high temperatures, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (MCSOSAR) was activated. Because the search area is split between Multnomah and Clackamas Counties, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue (CSAR) team also responded.
A special team of MCSO deputies, called the Green Hornets, quickly hiked down a trail near where the car was found. Green Hornets carry lightweight packs with emergency equipment, so they can deploy faster. Teams of MCSOSAR and CSAR members followed behind, searching as they worked their way down the trail. The trail, approximately 2 miles in length, ends at the Sandy River.
On the riverbank, searchers located Smaka’s personal belongings, including his identification and a pair of shoes.
Ground searchers fanned out along the riverbank. Two CSAR kayakers launched from Dodge Park to paddle the river. CSAR also launched a drone to search from above. Unfortunately, Smaka has not been located.
Search efforts are discontinuing this evening for the night. The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office is now leading search efforts. Media should direct any future questions related to the search to CCSO.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office would like to acknowledge the Green Hornets, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, Clackamas Search and Rescue and the Corbett Fire Department. Approximately 25 searchers participated in SAR efforts.
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