Monday, March 1, 2010
TOLLGATE, Ore. - The search for a missing Walla Walla boy ended with tears Monday after search and rescue crews found his body in a remote area of Union County.
Nathan Cain, 13, went missing Saturday about 1:30 p.m. while on a cross-country skiing trip with his father, Jim Cain, and his father's two friends.
The discovery was a grim ending to the third day of a search effort that at its peak drew as many as 80 searchers on snowshoes, skis, snowmobiles and vehicles, the Union County Sheriff's Office reported. Nathan's mother, Cheryl Cain, began the morning hopeful of her son's recovery, as the first search party of the day headed out about 8 a.m. The group intended to focus on a 4-square-mile area near Andies Peak, about two miles south of Spout Springs Ski Resort.
In a phone interview early Monday, Cheryl Cain said her husband and his two friends spent some time Saturday searching for Nathan, then sought the help of emergency crews.
Members of Union County Search and Rescue worked with Union County, Umatilla County and Baker County sheriff's offices in the search. The Oregon State Police provided a plane, and the Oregon National Guard assisted with a military helicopter unit. The La Grande Rural Fire Department offered communication resources.
The search included family, friends, and strangers who volunteered to help find Nathan.
Nathan was in the seventh-grade at Rogers Adventist School in College Place. Rogers Principal Jim Weller and teacher Lew Krueger were among the dozens of rescuers who took to the mountain Monday.
"It felt like we were at least being involved, to be part of the team," Krueger said.
Krueger, Nathan's homeroom teacher, was at a near loss for words at the realization that Nathan had died.
"It's not an easy thing to have happen," he said.
"He was a good kid, and he was genuinely kind and courteous to people," he said.
In a release, the Union County Sheriff reported Nathan was found about 11:40 a.m., nearly two miles from the point where he was last seen, in a small, steep gully, heavily wooded and off any trail.
Nathan's cause of death had not been confirmed at the time of the release, but the agency felt there was no sign of foul play. Union County Sheriff's Capt. Craig Ward noted in the release that the inherent risks of country travel are escalated in winter. Night time temperatures may have also dipped into the teens.
"There are very strong indications that Nathan succumbed to hypothermia on Saturday night," Ward said in the release.
Early into the search, those close to Nathan launched a "Praying for Nathan" fan page on Facebook.com, which listed hundreds of fans. A picture of Nathan smiling for his class picture adorns it.- Union-Bulletin Reporter Andy Porter contributed to this story.