MEACHAM — Umatilla County Search and Rescue and Oregon State Police are coordinating a multi-agency search Saturday and Sunday, May 8-9, near Meacham for Deborah Hendrichs, the 56-year-old woman from Star, Idaho, who went missing in the area on Jan. 11.
The search will concentrate on areas surrounding the eastbound side of Interstate 84 near milepost 238, where her abandoned vehicle was found after she was reported missing, according to a press release from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office. Search areas include portions along I-84, Hancock Road, the railroad and bridge and area creeks, bodies of water and wooded land. The objective of this search is to locate any remains of Hendrichs or any items she may have had with her at the time of her disappearance.
“This will be a robust search response with multiple agencies involved,” the release stated. “Approximately 90 personnel have committed to assist in the search, including possibly 10 K-9 teams, four drones and about 35 ground searchers. The actual number will not be known until participants check in on Saturday morning.”
The sheriff’s office also is asking the general public to remain out of the area unless they are residents and requesting that hunters with spring turkey or bear tags be aware there are searchers in the area and to choose an alternate hunt location during those days. And locals living in the area, especially near Meacham Lake, should be aware the search will use four drones.
“The drones will not be concentrating on occupied areas or invading privacy of homes or curtilage,” according to the press release. “They will be concentrating on areas away from occupied buildings and bodies of water. Searchers on the ground will also be staying away from occupied homes and curtilage, however if a home appears to have been vacant throughout the winter or looks broken into, they will notify the land owner in an attempt to eliminate any possibility that she entered an unoccupied residence or structure seeking assistance.”
Personnel with the Oregon Department of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad have provided a liaison to ensure safety of the search personnel because the area includes the interstate and railroad lines. ODOT also provided the location for an incident command post.
Union Pacific Railroad, Cunningham Sheep Company and Hancock Timber Resource Group have been contacted and are cooperating with searchers because these businesses own a large portion of the search area.
Sheriff’s Lt. Sterrin Ward said the project includes the development of a website on this mission at sterrinward.wixsite.com/website. The website also is where the mission will provide updates.