NEAH BAY — Crestfallen Makah tribal members and Clallam County search-and-rescue personnel have called off the physical search for Neah Bay resident Mathew Warren Dean.
Two dozen searchers ended their quest Friday, three days after Dean’s snowbound, empty vehicle was found southeast of Clallam Bay, said Brian King, Clallam County sheriff’s office chief criminal deputy,
Dean, 38, had not been seen since Tuesday morning, according to family members.
His vehicle was discovered in a shallow ditch along state Highway 112 about 10 miles southeast of Clallam Bay that same evening. Snowy foot tracks were leading away from the white 2007 Toyota Camry back toward Neah Bay.
The snow depth near where Dean’s car was found was about 18 inches, sheriff’s Sgt. Ed Anderson said.
The vehicle was reported to the State Patrol on Wednesday morning, Anderson said in a press release.
The sheriff’s office was notified Wednesday evening, Anderson said.
The vehicle appeared to have been driven off the roadway and into the shallow ditch during the heavy snowfall that blanketed the county from late Tuesday through early Wednesday.
King said tribal members and search-and-rescue personnel searched along the highway where there were unverified reports of an individual walking down the road around the time when Dean went missing.
“We checked all those areas, looking into snow banks and different things like that, did a lot searching along the state route and its shoulder, but there’s nothing to report,” King said.
“No additional evidence has been discovered.
“He’s an active missing person case, so it’s really turning into an investigation phase.
“We are satisfied as far as physically ground searching that we covered the area we needed to.”
King said there were unconfirmed sightings of Dean that the department needs to follow up on from people who believe they saw him.
“One report was that he was seen in the Port Angeles area at a business, so we are working toward corroborating that,” King said.
“We have not confirmed that it was, in fact, him or not.
“We have a number of reports to go through.
“We have not confirmed a credible sighting at this point.”
Those sightings range from Clallam Bay to Port Angeles, King said.
Neah Bay Police Chief Jasper Bruner said Friday that Dean had recently fled from a traffic stop for a minor traffic infraction.
King said the sheriff’s office has no jurisdiction over what occurs on the reservation.
“We just want to know that he is safe, if we can confirm that in any way possible, through a confirmed sighting, a phone call from a friend, contact with the family, that he is safe,” King said.
Dean, about 5-feet, 10-inches tall and 155 pounds, according to the press release issued Thursday.
He is Native American with brown hair and eyes.
His family said he was last known to be wearing black sneakers and black or gray sweatpants.
Anyone with information that may help in locating Dean is asked to call Pencom at 360-417-2459.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.