Hellgate Canyon jumper presumed drowned

The Josephine County Sheriff's Department has called off the search for a 43-year-old Grants Pass man who jumped in the river in Hellgate Canyon Wednesday and is presumed drowned.

Deputies and volunteers searched from boats and a helicopter, and dived into the deep, fast-moving section of the river, but found no sign of Steve Douglas Reed.

Reed leaped into the water Wednesday evening at a point south of the Hog Creek boat landing, about 100 yards into the canyon where the river roils deep and narrow, Josephine County Undersheriff Don Fasching said.

Reed and a 40-year-old friend spent Wednesday along the river, drinking and jumping from the banks at various locations to swim, Fasching said.

When Reed didn't resurface after his big jump, his friend called to a passing Hellgate Jetboat Excursion boat operator, who radioed the information to rescue crews at 7:36 p.m. Wednesday.

Marine deputies on boats plied the river until dark searching for Reed that evening. Thursday, divers searched in waters that range from 60 to 110 feet deep and swirl with treacherous currents, Fasching said.

"It's one of the deepest parts and one of the most hazardous areas of the river," he said.

The dive team returned Friday afternoon and worked several more hours, as did a private helicopter operator who tried to spot the body from above. Finding no evidence, searchers called off the mission until new clues emerge that can lead to recovering Reed's body.

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