The Clackamas County Sheriff's Office in Oregon has suspended the search for Lidiya Dmitriyevna Russu, a 47-year-old woman whose vehicle was found abandoned in the Mount Hood National Forest last week.
"The search has been complicated by heavy rains, high winds and cold temperatures," said Clackamas County Sgt. James Rhodes.
Russu, of Portland, Ore., was last seen by her family on Oct. 6. She was reported missing the following morning. On Oct. 8, Russu's 2000 Hyundai Elantra was found parked near the High Rocks lookout in the Mount Hood National Forest, off USFS Road 4610.
The forest, which is located about 60 miles east of Portland, encompasses six counties and covers more than 1 million acres of land.
The team had been coordinating the search effort in the area where Russu's vehicle was recovered. According to Rhodes, the area is remote and rugged and the terrain is steep and heavily wooded.
Since last week, heavy fog and rain hampered search efforts. Low visibility grounded all aircraft from conducting aerial searches, and heavy rainfall diminished the effectiveness of search dogs. Temperatures remained in the low 40s and dropped into the 30s each night of the search.
Despite the conditions, multiple agencies, including Portland Mountain Rescue, Search One K-9, NORSAR, the Hood River County Sheriff and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue Team assisted in the search. Unfortunately, the extensive effort did not reveal any clues to Russu's whereabouts, police said.
In making the decision to suspend the search, the sheriff's office consulted with Dr. Terri Schmidt, a medical doctor from Oregon Health & Science University who is an expert in emergency medicine and wilderness survival. They also reached out to other experts in the search-and-rescue community for advice.
"Mrs. Russu had very limited wilderness survival experience and was not properly dressed or equipped to stay in the wilderness," Rhodes said. "Given the heavy rain, low temperatures and high winds, the likelihood that Mrs. Russu will be recovered alive is outweighed by the extreme risk posed to searchers in this rugged terrain and wintery weather."
Russu's family has conveyed, through the sheriff's office, their gratitude and appreciation to the searchers. The family has declined to speak directly with media.
Although field operations have been suspended, Rhodes said the case will remain open and authorities expect to conduct future searches in the area.
Russu is described as a white female, 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighing about 155 pounds. She has long black hair, brown eyes and was last seen wearing a black house dress with a zipper on the front, a silver scarf holding her hair in a bun and flip flops.
Anyone who has had contact with Russu since Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011, or anyone who has information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact the sheriff's office at 503-723-4949.
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