Body Recovered from Klamath River a “Suspicious Death”

April 21, 2020

On Monday night, April 20, 2020 at about 6:39 p.m., Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Deputy Sammy Woods, working in the Happy Camp area, received a citizen’s report of a body floating in the Klamath River. Deputy Woods responded to a location near the Independence Creek Bridge and observed a body floating in the river near the bridge. The location is located approximately 13.7 miles west of Happy Camp along the SR 96 corridor. Deputy Woods reported his observations and SCSO Sergeant Josh Tygart responded and requested assistance from Karuk Tribal Security Officer Randy White, who operates a newly acquired tribal boat that was purchased for river-type operations and rescues. Officer White responded to assist with the tribal watercraft, and the body was successfully retrieved from the river. SCSO’s Major Crimes Unit was notified and a follow-up investigation has been initiated by detectives.

The decedent has not been identified and the death is considered suspicious, involving unknown circumstances. Such death investigations are routinely handled as homicides until otherwise determined by detectives to involve another manner of death. An autopsy has been tentatively scheduled this week in Yreka to assist investigators determine the cause and manner of death in this case.

According to Sheriff Jon Lopey, “The recovery of the decedent was a great example of excellent teamwork between SCSO and the Karuk Tribe officials, whose security officer quickly responded to the incident and ensured the body was recovered, which allowed SCSO investigators the opportunity to initiate an investigation into the decedent’s death. The Klamath River is a difficult waterway to navigate and the rapid recovery precluded what could have been a long-term search operation, especially had the recovery not been completed prior to total darkness. The first step will be to conduct a forensic autopsy and detectives from SCSO’s Major Crimes Unit will work this week to identify the decedent. This case is still under investigation and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”