Douglas Co. Sheriff's Office

WINCHESTER BAY, Ore. - A Eugene man who went scuba diving in the Umpqua River near the mouth of the Pacific Ocean is considered missing after he did not surface. 

On Sunday, January 29, 2024, shortly before 3:00 p.m., 9-1-1 dispatchers received a call from a female reporting her friend, 47-year-old Jeffery Scott Harris of Eugene, missing. Harris had gone scuba diving in the Umpqua River near the mouth of the Pacific Ocean in Winchester Bay at approximately 12:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Harris, who had previous diving experience, had not returned prompting the call to emergency personnel. 

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office, along with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), began a large-scale search for Harris. Two USCG Boats along with a helicopter searched the water. The Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue unit searched by land with K9 teams and ATVs until dark. 

On Monday, searchers resumed their efforts by water and ground. Dive Rescue teams from Douglas County and Lane County attempted to dive in the morning during low tide but had to abort efforts due to dangerous diving conditions. The USCG helicopter assisted in searching throughout the morning. 

“We have been in communication with Jeffrey's family and have kept them updated as to the efforts that are being made. We are doing everything we can to assist them in locating Jeffrey,” Lt. Brad O'Dell said. “Deputies will return Tuesday to patrol the area by land. We are also coordinating with outside agencies to determine if specialized underwater searching equipment can be utilized in the conditions.”

The Sheriff's Office has been assisted by the United States Coast Guard, Oregon State SAR Coordinator, CAHOOTS of Eugene, Lane County Search and Rescue, Douglas County Marine Patrol and Douglas County Search and Rescue. 

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