PORTLAND, Ore. -- Oregon’s largest-ever search effort for a missing child wrapped up Sunday and transitioned into a criminal case, sending hundreds of weary volunteers home.
Raymond Lee and his crew from Crook County were just some of the many volunteers who dropped everything when they got the call for help. They were in Portland and on the ground within 24 hours, helping to look for Kyron Horman.
“A child is something else, it's really something that hits you in the heart," Lee said.
About 1,300 people aided the search for Horman. Most were volunteers with special training who put their lives on hold to help out.
Joe Swinheart, the father of two young boys and a 5th grade school teacher from Central Oregon, was sad to be sent home without Kyron being found.
“I left my family behind, and my wife totally said, ‘go look, look as hard as you can,’" Swinheart explained.
“I could be spending time with family, but on a search like this, when a kid is involved, I'll drop everything to do it," added Michael Graham with Jackson County Search & Rescue.
And it was not easy work.
Searchers spent 10 days moving through high grass, thick trees and often heavy rain - in unpredictable conditions.
“This is a different terrain than we are used to,” Swinheart said. “We are used to wide-open country up in Central Oregon. It’s nice and wide, you can see everywhere. We've been in blackberries, I've got hay-fever now.”
All the while, the volunteers got words of encouragement from Kyron's classmates in the form of a huge banner signed by students from Skyline Elementary School.
“You know the motivation of what we are doing gets us up in the morning and keeps us working all day long," volunteer Karen Marcotte told KGW.
For most searchers, returning home was bittersweet. While they were glad to return to their families, they were disappointed to leave Portland without having found Kyron Horman.
(KGW reporter Kyle Iboshi contributed to this article.)