In the early afternoon of Saturday, August 26th, 2023, a family stopped at the Rock Springs overlook on the USFS 62 Road northeast of Cove, OR, found a crashed vehicle in the bushes below the cliff. They immediately contacted the Union County 911 dispatch to report the vehicle, and based on the vehicle description and items found in the area, it became apparent the vehicle likely belonged to Rebecca Lilleston, who was reported missing July 9, 2023.
When dispatch had originally pinged the phone, the coordinates given by the cell phone company indicated Rebecca was using her phone in the greater Mt. Harris area. Union County Sheriff Deputies immediately attempted to find Lilleston in the area of where her cell phone last showed activity. Since the initial report, deputies and members of the public have returned to the area to continue the search, including where the vehicle was ultimately located. Dense brush substantially obscured the view of the vehicle from the overlook, which is likely what prevented it from being located by prior search efforts.
Based on the very steep slope the vehicle was on, 11 personnel from Union County Search and Rescue and the La Grande Rural Fire Department responded to the scene to provide technical rope access and personnel to assist the sheriff’s office investigators. On arrival, the responders confirmed the vehicle and associated personal effects at the scene belonged to Rebecca Lilleston. Due to the nature of the crash, the driver of the vehicle appeared to have been unrestrained and subsequently ejected from the vehicle during the crash.
A brief search of the area near the vehicle by SAR and fire department personnel located human remains presumed to be Lilleston. Due to the very steep slopes, personnel at the scene used rope systems for both personal safety near the scene and to ensure a dignified recovery of the deceased.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office would like to express our sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Lilleston.
We want to thank the Union County Search and Rescue members, and the La Grande Rural Fire Department for their help in this recovery. As well as our appreciation to the community for both the volunteer search efforts and support they have provided to the family in this difficult time.