Sams Valley man likely died of hypothermia

    Jackson County sheriff’s detectives investigate the death of a Sams Valley man whose pickup got stuck in the mud off-road.

    The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled that a Sams Valley man’s death near Butte Falls Highway was accidental.

    Richard Allen Ward, 45, whose body was found near a gravel quarry Tuesday afternoon within an eighth of a mile of where his Chevrolet Silverado pickup was found stuck in the mud, likely died of hypothermia, according to a release issued by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office that followed a Wednesday afternoon autopsy performed by Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. James Olson.

    Ward was reported missing Tuesday morning, after he failed to return late Monday night after going with a friend to recover his truck, which had gotten stuck in the mud over the weekend near Butte Falls Highway and Derby Road, according to the release. A Jackson County Search and Rescue K9 team found Ward’s body at 2:10 p.m.

    Detectives said his injuries “appeared to be consistent with a ground-level fall.”

    Olson determined that the trauma to Ward’s head and limbs alone wouldn’t have been fatal on its own. Investigators are looking into alcohol as a factor in Ward’s death, after finding evidence of alcohol use at the scene, but toxicology tests on Ward are still pending.

    Anyone who may have additional information can call the sheriff’s department tip line at 541-770-8333.

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