Search teams on Saturday morning found a missing hiker they'd been looking for since Wednesday evening near Parish Lake.

A ground crew located Jerry Walter Thomas, 70, of Prineville, at approximately 8:55 a.m. near Daly Lake, about three miles from the Parish Lake trailhead.

Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley said that Thomas was wet and hungry but overall in good spirits and health. After taking a hot shower and being reunited with his wife, a registered nurse, Thomas declined medical treatment.

"This is a testament to the teamwork, dedication and tenacity of all involved," Riley said, in thanking all the agencies and personnel who participated in the search. "Being part of a life-saving mission such as this is one of the most satisfying rewards we can experience in law enforcement. The successful outcome of this search would not have been possible if not for the services and dedication of numerous volunteers and agencies."

More than 80 SAR members from numerous agencies were deployed Saturday morning alone. The Marion, Lane, Jefferson, Benton, and Deschutes County sheriff's offices, as well as Corvallis Mountain Rescue and the Oregon Army National Guard, participated in the operation.

Thomas had been picking huckleberries with friends Wednesday, but he failed to return to camp at about 1:30 p.m. After searching for some time themselves, Thomas' friends called 9-1-1 at 5:20 p.m. Members of Linn County Search and Rescue responded with a team of 15 personnel and began searching, continuing their efforts through the night.

Contact reporter Neil Zawicki at 541-812-6099 or neil.zawicki@lee.net

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