Search under way for Medford man after car abandoned

GRANTS PASS — Authorities searched Thursday for a Medford man who disappeared after his car got stuck up to the headlights in mud on a backcountry road near the Oregon-California border.

Authorities were unsure who was driving the 2002 Dodge Intrepid but suspect it was 25-year-old Ryan Finchum.

The keys were missing and Finchum's cell phone was inside the car when it was found on the road along the Klamath River, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger said.

Finchum was last seen by a parole officer in Medford on June 3. He had recently served time in jail for driving under the influence and resisting arrest, authorities said. He was released to a work center.

His mother Leigh Finchum held out hope that her son may have returned to Norman, Okla., where he grew up.

"I don't know if he would come to Norman, but he has so many friends and contacts there it's worth trying," she told The Norman Transcript newspaper. "Nobody knows anything. And not knowing is worse than anything you can imagine."

Ground and helicopter searches in Oregon turned up no trace of Finchum. A check with residents near the river also produced no leads.

It was not unusual for Finchum to be out of touch with his family for weeks, but this was an unusually long time, Evinger said. Finchum missed a child support hearing since he was last seen.

"I'm troubled by it," Evinger said. "There are just a lot of things that don't add up."

The road between the J.C. Boyle Dam and the Copco Reservoir is commonly used by rafters. But it is hard to find, and cars often get stuck.

Evinger said the driver of the Intrepid appeared to be trying to get around a flooded area but got so deeply mired there were several inches of mud inside the car.

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