Man lost in wilderness area since Monday found dead

YREKA, Calif., — A Yreka man appears to have died of hypothermia after search crews spent most of Thursday looking for him in the wilderness near Willow Creek Mountain in Northern California, officials said.

Searchers found the body of Kenneth Romero, 52, half a mile from their base camp, Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department officials said.

Romero disappeared early Monday from a wood-cutting camp.

Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said searchers from Jackson, Klamath and Del Norte counties are helped the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department look for Romero.

Romero, who was reportedly in "extremely poor health," left a camp in the Willow Creek Mountain area near Kuck's Cabin, Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Susan Gravenkamp said. He was on a camping and wood-cutting trip with a friend, David Basque, 28, and another man, she said in a news release.

The group set up camp Saturday and Romero left the camp that night, Basque told authorities. He and his companion found Romero at about 4 p.m. Sunday and had to carry him back to camp, where they warmed him by the fire and fed him. He was delusional and acting strangely, Basque reported.

Basque then told deputies that he woke up about 1 a.m. Monday and noticed that Romero was gone again. He saw the beam of a flashlight moving through the trees, but couldn't follow it. When he called out for Romero, he got no answer, the sheriff's department reported.

The campers looked for Romero Monday, but when they didn't find him, Basque reported his friend missing at about 7:15 p.m. Monday.

Romero reportedly was wearing slip-on shoes, blue coveralls and a beanie hat. He had medication, said to be for bacterial spinal meningitis, in his pocket and took a flashlight with him. It was initially reported that he also had a pistol with him, but the gun was later found at the camp.

Because the first report was about a delusional man with a gun, deputies searched the roads Monday night, but didn't call search and rescue volunteers until they confirmed that the missing man wasn't armed and dangerous, Gravenkamp said.

A National Guard helicopter with heat-sensing equipment searched Tuesday and a Coast Guard helicopter was called Wednesday, Gravenkamp said.

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