Searchers in Northern California have found traces of a missing mountain biker but as of Wednesday morning the whereabouts of 66-year-old Terry Knight remained unknown.
“We are still searching. We still have crews here 24 hours working on this incident,” Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Courtney Kreider said Wednesday.
Deputies say Knight rode on a mountain bike from his home in the small town of McCloud on June 22 to cut trails in the forest and didn’t return.
On Saturday, search-and-rescue teams found Knight’s bike, his helmet and clothing near Mud Creek northeast of the McCloud Mill, the sheriff’s office said.
The clues prompted the Sheriff’s Office to send additional crews to the area south-southeast of Mt. Shasta for a thorough grid search.
“A California Highway Patrol helicopter flew overhead to try and locate him. Unfortunately, Mr. Knight remains missing,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
Kreider said the presence of Knight’s belongings on the ground wasn’t unusual. She said Knight and his mountain biking friends would typically bring tools and a change of clothes when they were out cutting trails.
“It’s not strange for the investigation that those things were left on the ground because that’s something they would routinely do,” Kreider said.
Knight’s mountain-biking buddies in McCloud have been aiding the search effort each day, telling teams where they think he might’ve gone and where they’ve ridden in the past.
“The mountain bikers are all local so they know that area better than anyone else and we’ve covered the best ground that we can so far,” she said.
Authorities say Knight has a heart condition and that he didn’t take his cellphone with him, nor a GPS device. Knight’s medical condition may have prevented him from returning to his bike, Kreider said.
Numerous groups have been combing the forest. K-9 teams have looked on the ground as helicopters search from the air. A command post has been established at McCloud High School.
“We’ve had at least 15 county search-and-rescue teams show up over the course of a week. We definitely rely on the volunteers for this kind of search,” Kreider said.
A team of high school-age Explorer Scouts from Marin County have spent part of their summer break as part of the effort.
The teams are from the California State Guard, Marin and Napa counties, two mountain bike teams from Butte County and six dog teams from the California Rescue Dog Association and Monterey Bay. Sheriff’s offices in Oregon also helped out.
The huge search effort might lead one to wonder whether Knight is a local celebrity, but Kreider agreed he’s a regular guy who’s part of an experienced mountain biking group. He’s also known in the fly-fishing community that comes to McCloud to fish.
“A very outdoorsy guy,” is how Kreider described Knight.
“Every business that we’ve talked to in the community and people that have stopped by, they say they know Terry. He seems to be well-liked in the community and everyone is very concerned about him,” Kreider said.
Mike Chapman is an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Support local journalism by subscribing today.