Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls confirmed officials believe the body of Todd Ragsdale was found this afternoon in the hills above Lithia Park.
He said a county medical examiner is investigating the body now. Officials have not found any evidence of foul play, he said.
From the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page: “It is with great sadness that we bring this update. Searchers have located a body believed to be missing runner Todd Ragsdale. The medical examiner will make official confirmation, but Todd’s family has been notified. Sheriff Falls will hold a press conference at the Lithia Park bandshell at 3pm.”
Members of Southern Oregon Runners are posting on Facebook that the body of Todd Ragsdale has been found, though attempts to confirm this with officials have not yet been successful.
The runners have been intimately involved with the search since Ragsdale disappeared while on a light run or hike above Lithia Park Thursday morning.
A press conference is scheduled for 3 p.m., according to the Southern Oregon Runners’ Facebook page.
More information will be posted when we get confirmation and details.
About 50 search and rescue workers and more than 100 runners continued their search Saturday morning for distance runner Todd Ragsdale, 46, of Talent, who disappeared Thursday in the Ashland watershed after going for a run wearing a light jacket and running shorts.
As of 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jackson County Sheriff Corey Falls said 161 volunteers were involved in Saturday search efforts, including 50 law volunteers from law enforcement agencies in six counties, including Josephine, Klamath, Siskiyou and Lake counties.
“We’re trying to scour every trail,” Falls said.
SAR and runners have been combing the hillside above Lithia Park since Thursday afternoon. The search on Friday continued until after midnight before it was called off in concern for the safety of volunteers.
Volunteer Brent Kell warmed up with coffee and donated sandwiches after searching near Jabberwocky trail.
“It’s more of a grid search now,” Kell said.
“I think everyone’s decided he’s not on a trail at this point,” Kell later said, expressing concern that Ragsdale’s not near a trail.
Sheriff Corey falls said they are using search dogs and two helicopters Saturday, in addition to volunteer resources. Falls said five search dogs were used Friday, but didn’t have a total of search dogs Saturday.
“e’re still search and scouring the area we think he went,” Falls said.
Jackson County Sheriff’s office towed away Ragsdale’s vehicle, a dark green Honda Element. Although Falls said no signs point any differently than that Ragsdale is in the watershed, searching the vehicle is part of a thorough investigation.
“We want to make sure that we cover all our bases,” Falls said.
Runners, who know the trails intimately, have been paired with search and rescue workers to ensure a safe and effective search, said Jackson County sheriff’s Sgt. Shawn Richards. After thoroughly covering the trails Friday, workers will concentrate their search today off-trail, where the terrain is steep, wet and slick, he said. Those who want to help with the search must dress appropriately for rugged, cold conditions, he said.
Searchers will continue to call out Ragsdale’s name as they comb the watershed, where temperatures have hovered near freezing over the past two nights. Nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain fell in the watershed Thursday night and early Friday morning, and a light dusting of snow covered higher elevations overnight. Temperatures are expected to drop to below freezing tonight, the National Weather Service predicts.
“We’re still holding out hope for him,” Richards said. “We sure hope we’re able to locate him today.”
Local businesses have been donating supplies and food for the workers at the command center on Granite Street. Richards said they had what they needed for now.
“It’s been an amazing outpour of assistance from the local community and the local running community,” Richards said. “We’re good. We just need to find Todd.”
Ragsdale, who was recovering from a hamstring injury, left his house around 10:30 a.m. Thursday for what he said was a light hike or run. His black Honda Element was found that afternoon in a parking area above Lithia Park, and he was reported missing to Ashland police at 3:30 p.m. Officials towed the car from the parking lot this morning.
Ragsdale six years ago set a Guinness World Record by running 102 miles barefoot in 24 hours during a Relay for Life event in Medford.
— Cathy Noah