Pacific Crest Trail- North of Ray Benson Snow Park on Hwy 20

Injured Rider; Van Cleve, Melvin
72 yo Male
Eugene, Oregon


On 07/16/2017, at about 1010 hours, Linn County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue was notified of a 72 year old male that had fallen off a horse on the Pacific Crest Trail about 1.25 miles north of the intersection on Hwy 20 near Ray Benson Snow Park. Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue was requested to assist Linn County SAR based on the proximity of the SAR Teams to the incident.

There were currently two DCSO SAR members and a friend hiking the PCT trail on their way to Summit Three Finger Jack. After receiving the request for DCSO SAR resources, they turned around to make initial contact with the fallen rider. In the meantime, one Linn County SAR Deputy, two USFS Officers, Sisters Fire personnel, nine DCSO SAR volunteers and one DCSO SAR Deputy responded to the incident.

The fallen rider, Melvin Van Cleve, had sustained injuries that required transportation on a wheeled litter down to the trail head at Hwy 20. During the litter transport it was determined Van Cleve’s injuries were potentially life threatening and would require him to be transported by air ambulance. Life Flight was dispatched to a landing zone set up across the highway after which Van Cleve was transported to St Charles Bend.

It was learned Van Cleve was riding with family and friends, a total of six riders, on their way for a day’s ride to upper and lower Berley Lakes. Van Cleve’s horse became spooked by a snag near the trail causing Van Cleave to fall.

By Deputy Jim Whitcomb; Assistant DCSO SAR Coordinator