Tribes Join Together to Lead Search for Missing Happy Camp Man

23-16 HC Homicide-Ben Camarena-WEB VERSION

Benjamin Camarena, 42, was reported missing on Friday, April 14, 2017./Photo courtesy of Cheryl Beck.

Two Rivers Tribune

The Karuk Tribe assembled a search party in Happy Camp Wednesday to continue the search for 42-year-old Karuk Tribal member Benjamin Camarena.

Camarena was reported missing on the evening of Friday, April 14 around 6:30 p.m., around the same time a citizen reported seeing a dead body matching Camarena’s description, floating down Indian Creek and into the Klamath River.

A volunteer firefighter attempted to retrieve the body, but was unsuccessful.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office initiated a search and rescue effort that lasted about six hours on Friday evening. An inconclusive aerial search continued throughout Saturday, but dwindled by Sunday.  Camerena’s family members continued to search the river by boat and on foot, but were discouraged by the lack of assistance.

On Tuesday morning, Camarena’s family asked the Chairman of the Karuk Tribe to coordinate a multi-agency search party that included the Hoopa Tribe, Yurok Tribe, Karuk Tribe, the U.S. Coast Guard and various law enforcement agencies.

The Hoopa Valley Tribe assisted by sending their Office of Emergency Services (OES) team to Happy Camp, as well as the Tribal Civilian Community Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers. The Yurok Tribe also sent their tribal police chief along with a jet boat. Hoopa OES set up an Incident Command Post at the tribal gymnasium where they oversaw the coordination of a new search plan.

The tribal-led search will continue over the next several days with efforts expected to ramp up beginning Saturday. Volunteers wishing to assist with the search are asked to convene at the Happy Camp Gymnasium at 8 a.m. on Friday and Saturday morning.

Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office investigators have conducted several interviews in the Happy Camp area and Camerena’s disappearance is now being investigated as suspicious.

Anybody with information about Camarena’s whereabouts or his activities prior to his disappearance are asked to contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 841-2900.

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