Search resumes for 3 missing mushroom pickers - KPTV - FOX 12

Search resumes for 3 missing mushroom pickers

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A search resumed Friday in Southern Oregon for a couple and their adult son who disappeared after leaving their campsite to pick mushrooms.

Belinda and Daniel Conne, both 47, and their 25-year-old son, Michael, were last seen Sunday at their campsite on the Rogue River. They did not return to a camping trailer where they left two dogs.

Joe Dykes, who works at the Huntley Park campsite where they were staying, said the Connes arrived at the campsite in July and their son got there later.

"They were really nice people, a nice family," Dykes said. "They mentioned working back in Oklahoma, making good money, doing I don't know what kind of work."

The campsite has no electricity and limited running water. Dykes said the family lived in an recreational vehicle with a trailer attachment.

Belinda Conne worked at the Jot's Resort as a housekeeper, where motel owner Virginia McKinney said the Connes were preparing to rent a home in Gold Beach, Ore., before the disappearance.

"She's a very nice lady, we're just flabbergasted at all this," McKinney said. "She was a good worker, very well liked and responsible."

McKinney said Belinda told her she always wanted to live on the Oregon coast, and finally left Oklahoma last year with the intention of settling down.

Police said the family supported themselves with working odd jobs, glass blowing and picking mushrooms.

Curry County Sheriff John Bishop said in a news release that police were able to make contact with Belinda Conne's mother in Oklahoma.

A helicopter flown by a volunteer flew low and slow over the area Thursday but was unable to see tracks or traces of the family. On the ground, more than 40 searchers and four canine units
searched a 4-square-mile area without success.

Dykes called the sheriff's office to report them missing Sunday night, and on Monday deputies searched the area about two miles from the campground where they were known to hunt for hedgehog mushrooms. They left two Chihuahua dogs at the trailer but had with them a friendly pit bull-mix.

When the search area expanded on Wednesday, a deputy found their unlocked 2004 red Jeep Cherokee with a chain saw and binoculars inside. It was parked along a seldom-used logging road on the western edge of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Two jackets, a backpack and a tote were found on the ground about a third of a mile away at the end of a gravel road.

The area is in rugged country riddled with a maze of logging roads in the Klamath Mountains where people frequently get lost or stranded. In 2006, a San Francisco family was stranded in a snowstorm on a logging road about 35 miles northeast of the search area for the Connes. James Kim died of hypothermia trying to hike out, but his wife and children were rescued by a helicopter pilot.

"They were doing well," McKinney said. "It's tragic."

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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