Medford snowmobiler crashes, then survives cold night in woods

PROSPECT — A Medford man survived a cold and wet night in the Woodruff recreation area after crashing his snowmobile into a tree Monday, sheriff's officials said.

Jackson County search and rescue crews were called to the area early Tuesday after Jerry Reeves did not return from his trip. His wife knew of his general location because he had sent her a text message the previous day saying he was heading to the woods near Prospect, sheriff's deputies said.

Searchers arrived in the area with three Sno-Cats, six snowmobiles and a helicopter.

They soon found Reeves' vehicle parked along Highway 62 near Abbott Creek Road, and a sheriff's helicopter pilot spotted Reeves hiking down Abbott Creek Road at 10:30 a.m.

He told his rescuers he had crashed his snowmobile about 14 miles off the road. He was unhurt and managed to build a fire to survive the cold night. At first light he walked to the road and began heading toward Highway 62.

"He did a lot of good things, such as building a fire to stay warm and waiting until morning to walk out," Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said.

Medics examined Reeves and determined him in good health, although he was cold and wet from his night in the woods.

Winters warned those who recreate in remote areas to travel in pairs.

"It's safer to do this in the winter months," Winters said. "If one person gets hurt, the other can administer first aid or help get them to safety."

This was the third search-and-rescue mission in what has so far been a slow winter, Winters said. He said the warm temperatures and lagging economy have kept people out of the woods.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471 or e-mail

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