Monday, July 9, 2012

Skeleton in the Desert

On July 5, 2012, we took a day trip with our friends, Kate and Ron, to a remote section of Harney County east of the Steens Mountains. Ron took us to a place called Mickey Basin to the north of Mickey Hot Springs where he spent the night two years ago guarding the site of an apparent suicide scene. A skeleton was found by a BLM patrol officer in a mound of rare green vegetation by an alkaline lake bed. A man from a distant community, apparently upset over the breakup with his girlfriend, drove out into a rocky sagebrush-strewn landscape with no paved road and barely visible gravel lane in January intent upon taking his own life. He was driving a Honda over roads hardly passable in a four-wheel drive truck, let alone a small car. He backed the Honda into a shallow hole he dug out of the mound and covered the car with brush. He hooked up a hose from the exhaust to the inside of the car and left the car running. That didn't seem to work so he used a rifle to shoot himself in the head. The skeleton was found upright in the driver's seat, an empty whiskey bottle on the floor. How the man found the site in a Honda remains a mystery. Even more astounding was that the patrol officer found the site in June of that year because it was so remote and so well hidden. The suicide victim had dug his own grave and hid it, thinking he'd never be found. The coroner declared the death a suicide.

Looking across the alkaline lake, in the far distance are unusual green mounds. We drove across the lake bed coming back.

Tailgating in the middle of nowhere

Ron and John investigate the site where the car was found

Ron, a retired law enforcement officer, with lake in background

the shallow depression where the car was

investigating the unusual greenery

can you find the road in this photo?

the middle of nowhere

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