Breaking News: Southern Oregon Miner Killed on Klamath River 

A Southern Oregon gold miner was found dead on the night of July 8th, fully submerged in water on the Upper Klamath River near where he was working, various sources are reporting.

The miner, 55 year old Jay Myers, of Medford, Oregon, was discovered around 9 PM on Sunday by the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office at a location north of Collier Rest Stop near Klamathon Road, the Redding Record Searchlight reported on Monday morning.

Allison Giannini, a spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office, told the Record Searchlight that "deputies found Myers' dredging equipment at the scene before they knew his body had been found, and they noticed the equipment had run out of fuel. Crews added fuel in an attempt to give Myers oxygen, but then found out he'd been located."

Meanwhile, the Mount Shasta News reported that "deputies arrived on scene and were assisted by CAL FIRE ... and the Siskiyou County Sheriffs Dive Recovery Team was called to assist in searching for the missing person as well." in response to a call of a possible distressed or missing person on the river.

However, Jason Myers, who is the brother of the deceased miner, told Jefferson Mining District that the news coverage exaggerates the involvement, not to mention the efficiency of local officials.

According to Myers, local officials were so slow to arrive upon the scene that he nearly beat them there from his home in Shady Cove, Oregon. In addition to criticizing them for their slow response, Myers also reports that he and his own family were actually the ones who recovered his brother's body from the water.

"When I first got there, only a few of those people were on scene and they were milling about like they had just arrived and didn't know what to do," Myers said angrily.

Forced to take action, Myers and four relatives, including his seventeen year old nephew, struggled to remove the miner from the water, who by that time had likely been submerged for nearly eight hours.

"I think he has just starting to fill the hopper with the second load of gravel," Myers surmised, noting that he did not believe that his brother had been mining very long until something went wrong. "I'd guess that he died around noon, judging by the amount of material he had processed."

Myers felt that most of the officials who were present at the scene proved to be more of a hindrance than a help.

"They treated it more like a crime scene than an attempt to get my brother out of the river and would not let us use the hooka on his equipment to help retrieve his body. My 17 year old nephew had to use a mask and a snorkel to get to him. Most of the authorities just stood around and watched while we got Jay out of the river."

Once they had the body out of the water, Myers said he removed the diving hood from his brother's head and tried to recessitate him.

"One of the deputies told me not to remove the hood and not to bother."

Myers said that he exchanged harsh words with the deputy.

"I told him that he wasn't fit to wear his uniform," Myers recalled angrily.

According to officials, the cause of the miner's death has not yet been determined.

"They've performed the autopsy, but we're waiting for the toxicology report," Myers said. 
Jay Myers was operating this experimental underwater power sluice when he was killed on the Upper Klamath River on Sunday, July 8th, 2012.According to numerous news reports, Jay Myers was using a suction dredge on the Upper Klamath River, but both his brother and a friend of his, Jim Yerby, of Medford, Oregon state that Myers was not working with a suction dredge, but instead had designed a unique piece of underwater mining equipment that still allowed him to work the bottom of the Klamath River despite a much debated recent decision by the State of California to temporarily ban suction dredging.

"He was a very experienced miner and had quite a grasp of engineering," Yerby recalled. "This machine has a sort of crane and a little bucket on it. It's not a suction dredge".

"He called it an 'Underwater Power Sluice' and he could go to the bottom of the river, fill the bucket up and then hoist it up and feed it into the hopper" Myers said of the machine, adding that his brother had allowed the California State Division of Fish and Game to inspect the machine to ensure compliance with their recent administrative guidelines.

"He was a great guy, had been mining for twenty or more years and he could find gold that would just blow your mind," Yerby said.

And he'd even found gold the day that he died, Myers said, adding that the family intended to bury his last golden find with him.

A service for Jay Myers is to be held at Trail Christian Fellowhip at 11:00 AM on July 14th, 2012 at Trail, Oregon

                                                                 The Underwater Power Sluice that Jay Myers designed. Photo: Jim Yerby


Mining Rights (dot) org is copyright 2010 by the South West Oregon Mining Association