Searchers unable to find Rogue River jet skier, missing for two days

According to the Curry County Sheriff's Office, the body of Jason James remains missing after a jet ski incident on Sunday.

Posted: Mar 26, 2019 2:03 PM
Updated: Mar 26, 2019 2:12 PM

GOLD BEACH, Ore. — A jet skier who went under the current of the Rogue River on Sunday remains missing at this time in spite of extensive search attempts, according to the Curry County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).

Witnesses told CCSO that 37-year-old Jason James of Gold Beach had been testing out a pair of jet skis on Sunday along the Rogue River near Jim Hunt Creek with 25-year-old Thomas Morris, also of Gold Beach. When Morris' jet ski quit running "in the middle of the river," James stopped to help him — but his own jet ski flipped over and he slipped into the river.

A bystander reportedly tried to swim out and help James, but was unable to reach him. Soon James, Morris and the bystander were all out in the current of the Rogue.

"It was reported that none of the three people had life vests on," CCSO said in a statement.

Someone called 911 reporting a person in distress in the Rogue River, prompting CCSO deputies, search and rescue (SAR) teams, and emergency personnel from Oregon State Police and multiple fire departments to respond to the scene.

"Two members of the Cedar Valley/North Bank Fire Department who live across the river witnessed the event and paddled their Kayaks over and were able to assist two of the three people back to shore," CCSO said. "Jason James had gone under water in the current and disappeared."

Search and rescue divers searched under the surface while boats and a Gold Beach Fire crew with a jet ski searched the area. Meanwhile, CCSO said that deputies and fire crews lined both sides of the river, with a helicopter observing from the air.

"A SAR member in his private boat used sonar scan to search the river bottom but by late evening, crews suspended the search due to poor light," CCSO said.

The search continued on Monday in spite of rainy, overcast weather, but rescuers found no sign of James.

Again on Tuesday, searchers set out to find James. Someone flew a drone overhead while crews continued to use boats and jet skis to scour the area. Searchers also used a private plane and a Life Flight helicopter to cover the entire river system from the point that James was last seen to the mouth of the Rogue River, including along the beach, CCSO said.

As of the CCSO statement released on Tuesday afternoon, James' body remained missing.

"This is a heartbreaking ordeal that affects our entire community and beyond. Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Jason James and we hope that we will be able to find Jason so the family can have some closure," CCSO said.

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