Hardesty Search and Investigation Suspended (Photo)
ASHLAND, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office officials say the search for an Ashland man missing since April 2017 has been suspended indefinitely. Based on evidence gathered, investigators believe Harold Hardesty, 87, committed suicide in or near Bear Creek. His body has not been found despite numerous searches.
Hardesty was reported missing by a family member on April 12, 2017. Detectives learned he was last seen by friends on the evening of April 9, 2017.
Surveillance video at Hardesty’s home in the 1200-block of Oak Street, just outside the Ashland city limits, showed Hardesty walking out of his house on the morning of April 10, 2017. He was carrying a case that appeared to contain a firearm. Deputies found the case at the edge of Bear Creek, a short walk east of Hardesty’s home. Hardesty, however, was not located.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue (SAR) teams immediately began searching the area by ground, water, and air with negative results. Detectives simultaneously conducted a comprehensive investigation, interviewing family and friends and following up on tips.
Detectives learned Hardesty had dementia and had displayed signs of declining mental health in the weeks leading up to his disappearance. He had also made efforts to obtain a new firearm.
Searchers have returned several times to search the area, taking advantage of changes in the water level of Bear Creek. SAR teams have conducted 18 search missions, with 745 person hours. Costs associated with the search total $15,890.71.
Detectives and search managers have been in close contact with Hardesty’s family since he was reported missing. Family members share the belief that Hardesty is deceased; they are planning a memorial service for him soon.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis or considering suicide, please call the Jackson County Mental Health Crisis Line at (541) 774-8201. Resources are also available through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.