Missing Ashland hiker found late Sunday night

An Ashland hiker said the weekend's time change and falling snow caused him to get lost on a Sunday afternoon hike.

Five teams of searchers, along with Jackson County sheriff's deputies, were dispatched shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday to help find 21-year-old Brent Fullerton, said Andrea Carlson, sheriff's office spokeswoman.

Five hours later, they found Fullerton on a remote access road on the back side of Mount Ashland, she said.

Fullerton left his home around 2 p.m. to hike the White Rabbit and Bull Gap trails. Three hours later, he called 9-1-1, saying he could not locate Bull Gap Trail and believed he was lost, she said. Fullerton said the combination of rapidly diminishing daylight and falling snow made it difficult for him to see where he was going, Carlson said.

The rescue crews performed "sound sweeps" during their search for Fullerton. The technique uses alarms and sirens to help hikers orient toward noise and find their rescuers. Other crews traveled paths and roadways, looking for footprints or other indications of a hiker, Carlson said.

Fullerton still had some occasional cell phone reception and was able to speak with Lt. Pat Rowland. The hiker's verbal descriptions helped searchers narrow in on his location, and Fullerton was found shortly after 10 p.m., she said.

Fullerton was discovered in good health and was taken back to his vehicle, which was parked in Lithia Park, Carlson said.

Carlson said Fullerton used food, water and other supplies he found inside an emergency box left in that area specifically for the benefit and survival of missing hikers and skiers. The emergency box is supplied and maintained by Jackson County Search and Rescue, she said.

Sanne Specht is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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