Search & rescue team finds body of missing southern Oregon man

(Jackson County Sheriff's Office photo)

EAGLE POINT, Ore. -- Jackson County Sheriff's Office detectives are investigating the death of a Sams Valley man.

JCSO search and rescue personnel located the body of Richard Allen Ward, Jr. 45, in the 15900-block of Antioch Road, approximately seven hours after he was reported missing Tuesday.

On April 10 at 7:16 a.m., a woman called dispatch to report Ward missing. He had been driving off-road in an area near Butte Falls Highway and Derby Road over the weekend when his vehicle became stuck in mud. Ward and a friend returned to free the vehicle.

Detectives say Ward's vehicle apparently became stuck in mud a second time while he was attempting to leave the area. Friends and family had been unable to reach Ward by phone after that time.

Deputies and SAR teams responded to the area Tuesday. Many of Ward's family and friends were also in the area assisting with the search.

Around 2:10 p.m., a SAR K9 team located Ward's body near a gravel quarry about 1/8-mile from his vehicle. Detectives say Ward had head injuries that appeared to be consistent with a ground level fall.

The Jackson County Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the cause and manner of death. An autopsy is planned for Wednesday.

Ward's family members were notified of his death.

Detectives say the investigation is ongoing, although there is no evidence at this time to suggest foul play.

Anyone with information about the incident can call the JCSO tip line at (541) 770-8333.

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