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Humboldt County Man Suspected to Have Gone Missing in the Swollen Waters of the Eel River

John Davis, the 48-year-old Humboldt County man who went missing nine days ago while camping and hunting in the area of Highway 162 and the 8-Mile Bridge, is thought to have possibly been swept away in the rising waters of the Eel River the morning he disappeared.

Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Captain Greg Van Patten told us Davis and his son were sleeping in a tent next to the Eel River on the night of Saturday, October 23, 2021.

The pair awoke to find the inside of their tent was “getting wet from the rising river,” Captain Van Patten explained. According to Van Patten, Davis’s son chose to go sleep in the car while Davis “indicated he was going to relocate the tent and sleep longer before hunting in the morning.”

The next morning, Davis did not return to the car, and soon after Davis was reported missing to MCSO.

Based on these circumstances, Captain Van Patten said investigators now suspect “that the father went missing in the river either as a result of rising water or trying to cross the river to make it to the hunting location.”

The search for Davis has been extensive by both Search and Rescue agencies and civilian searchers. MCSO’s SAR team has dedicated at least four operational days to the search for Davis as described in posts on their Facebook page. 

Search and Rescue personnel from Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Sonoma County, San Mateo County, Napa County, Placer County, Nevada County, Bay Area Mountain Rescue, Cal ESAR, and the California Air National Guard have assisted in the search. 

Significant efforts have been made to search the banks of the Eel River and the California Air National Guard deployed a Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter to search the river from above.

At the same time, the family of Davis and sympathetic members of the public have organized searches and reportedly gained permission by nearby property owners to comb the areas Davis could be located. As of Monday evening, Davis has not been found.

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