Medford man found in ravine suffered stroke

A Medford man continues to improve after suffering a stroke and driving his truck into a steep ravine near Mount Ashland, family members say.

Wayne Liska said doctors say it was a stroke that caused his son, Forrest Kurt Liska, 52, to lose control of his 1988 Ford Bronco and barrel down an 80-foot ravine off Forest Service Road 20 on July 22. Unable to climb back to the road, the severely injured and dehydrated Liska was trapped in the ravine for nearly four days before being rescued.

"A stroke created the problem," Liska said. "He will make a full recovery. But, boy, it's going to take some time. He's sore all over."

Kurt Liska remains in the intensive care unit at Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford. He is listed in serious condition with a left arm broken in three places above the elbow, a bruised spleen, bruised lungs and a couple of broken ribs. His son's right arm and side also have suffered paralysis from the stroke, Wayne Liska said.

His son still has to have surgery on his broken arm. "They're going to put a plate in that arm," Wayne Liska said. His son is in considerable pain, but he did manage to get up and walk a few steps on Sunday, Wayne Liska said.

"They got him up and he walked to the door. But that was as far as he got," he said.

Kurt Liska sat injured for nearly four days before a U.S. Forest Service employee, who was patrolling the roads Wednesday, grew suspicious when he saw tire tracks that led over the side of the road about 10 miles from Mount Ashland. The Forest Service official looked down the ravine and saw Liska sitting on a pile of rock. The injured man was calling for help.

Rescue workers labored to pull his 6-foot 5-inch tall son to safely, Wayne Liska said. "They had to work hard. It was quite an effort to get him up that hill," he said, adding Kurt Liska was conscious and talking with rescue personnel at the time.

Liska's family reported him missing to Medford police Tuesday after he hadn't been seen since July 22. They told police he enjoys hiking alone in the Applegate area. Medford police contacted sheriff's deputies and asked them to search the Applegate area for Liska but found no signs of him.The Sheriff's Department sent information about Liska to the BLM and U.S. Forest Service, asking for their employees to keep an eye out for Liska's Bronco.

Wayne Liska said the area his son crashed in had been "clear cut," except for the tree that stopped his truck's tumbling. He said his son was wearing a seat belt but was thrown from the vehicle anyway. Liska said the ejection might have saved his son's life.

"The tree just crushed the car," Liska said. "If he'd been in it when it hit, it would have killed him. He was thrown 150 feet beyond the car. That's why he's so skinned up."

Rescue officials said the incident is a reminder that anyone traveling alone in remote areas should be sure to tell others where they are going and the route they plan to take.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email

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