Family of missing Portland woman organizing search effort

Family and friends search for missing woman

PORTLAND, Ore. – After searching more than 150 miles of trails, search and rescue coordinators made the decision Monday to suspend the official search for 21-year-old Portland woman Anna Smith, pending new information or developments in the investigation.

But friends and family members on Monday morning announced they were going to keep looking, and they hoped for some help.

"Although the local authorities have suspended the official search, we are not giving up and are organizing our own efforts," her family announced in a Facebook post.

Update: We're still looking for Annie. There has been so much support and we are so grateful! Thank you! Although the...

Posted by The Piano Guys on Monday, October 24, 2016

The family has asked for volunteers who can hike up to 10 miles, and the effort is based at the Tooth Rock Trailhead off of Interstate 84.

On Monday, searchers focused on getting off the beaten path to look for Schmidt in more rugged terrain.

“We're doing atypical searches. We're getting into areas that are not easily accessible unless some falls into it,” said Jake Anderegg, Anna Schmidt’s uncle.

Many people who knew Schmidt are hopeful she’s still alive and waiting to be rescued.

“Even though the odds are against us, we still believe there's a slight chance she could be alive and so we haven't given up,” said family friend, David Simone.

They planned to possibly be out again on Tuesday.

“When my sister and brother-in-law tell us to go away, then we'll go away,” said Jesse Anderegg, Anna Schmidt’s uncle.

Schmidt’s family said they’re still looking for people who are experienced in the outdoors or experienced climbers to help search for Schmidt near Toothrock Trailhead.

Schmidt, a Utah-to-Portland transplant known by those who love her as Annie, was last seen on Sunday, Oct. 16, by her roommate.

Social media posts indicated she had gone hiking in the Gorge.

Portland police found her car Thursday, near the trailhead. Searchers scoured the area on Friday, and then on Saturday nearly 200 community volunteers and 50 search and rescue crews flooded the woods near Tooth Rock to look for her.

“The trails have been really well searched,” said Annie’s mom, Michelle Schmidt.

She said her daughter is adventurous and liked to take risks, and could have very likely gone off-trail.

“It's not unrealistic at all to assume she's injured somewhere,” said Michelle.

Her biggest worry is that her daughter took one risk too many. Inside her car, police found Annie’s cell phone and camping gear.

Michelle said her daughter’s phone is old, and the battery dies quickly. She said it’s entirely possible it was out of power when Annie arrived at the Gorge.

If that were the case, she might have left the phone and gone for what she assumed would be a short walk.

But she hasn’t been seen since.

Over the weekend, the search crews even took to the skies, with a fixed-wing plane circling overhead. Late Saturday morning, drones were deployed to scan the trickiest of areas.

“The Gorge is known for its cliffy outcroppings and waterfalls,” said Lt. Chad Gaidos of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. “These are, of course, beautiful sightseeing opportunities but dangerous areas.”

Gaidos estimated crews covered more than 100 miles of trail.

For Michelle Schmidt and the rest of her family, waiting is the worst part.

“I called my daughter last night, who's my youngest, and sat on the phone and cried and cried and cried and cried,” she said. “But we have to be logical and do all we can.”

Anna Schmidt was described as 5-foot-4 and 125 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone who may have been hiking in the Gorge over the past few days and recognizes Schmidt should contact Detective Heidi Helwig at heidi.helwig@portlandoregon.gov. Anyone else with information about Schmidt's whereabouts should call 911.

(© 2016 KGW)


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