On Saturday, April 28, 2018, at approximately 10:15AM, OSP was notified that the missing CMV driver, Jacob Aaron Cartwright had returned home and was en-route to Grande Ronde Hospital in La Grande for medical evaluation. An OSP Senior Trooper from the La Grande Area Command responded to the hospital and positively identified Cartwright.
Cartwright informed the Trooper that he had encountered snow and mud on the roadway and his vehicle combination began to slide toward a steep embankment. Cartwright was unsure of the name of the location where this occurred but provided information that a road that he had traveled onto began with a “G.” Forest Service Road 51, which is also known as Grande Ronde River Road, is located approximately 1.5 miles east of the area of the last known GPS location the night that Cartwright went missing. Forest Service Road 51 travels south of State Route 244 near milepost 35. With this new information, an OSP aircraft was deployed to that area and located the semi-truck and trailer at 10:59 AM. Two troopers from the La Grande Area Command arrived to the site at 11:58 AM. The location the vehicle was located was approximately 21 miles from the last known GPS location.
After Cartwright’s vehicle became unsafe to move, he departed the area on foot traveling along Forest Service Road 5125 and away from the direction that had initially approached from. Cartwright continued to walk in a northeast direction in what is estimated to be in excess of 14 miles before emerging from the forest at the 270 interchange of Interstate 84 approximately 9 miles south of La Grande. This route of travel from his vehicle was at elevations from approximately 5000 feet to 6500 feet as he crossed snowy mountain peaks and back down to Interstate 84. Cartwright was able to flag down an unidentified passing motorist who provided him with a ride to his home in La Grande.
The initial investigation has revealed Cartwright may have encountered a problem with his navigational GPS system and was routed off of State Route 244 onto Forest Service Road 51 where he traveled approximately 12.5 miles before turning onto Forest Service Road 5125. Mr. Cartwright traveled an additional 9 miles on Forest Service Road 5125 before his vehicle combination spun out and began to slide toward the steep embankment along the shoulder of the road. This area is a remote and mountainous location that has very limited, if any, cellular service.
OSP assisted the Union County Sheriff’s Office and several concerned volunteers in the search to locate Cartwright. Any questions regarding the search and rescue operations should be directed to the Union County Sheriff’s Office at 541-963-1017.