Horseback Woman Locates Missing 2-Year-Old in Molalla Wilderness with the Help of Her Two Dogs

A 2-year-old Molalla girl was located safe and sound in an extremely remote part of the Molalla River Recreation Area this week, thanks to local logging crews as well as a woman on horseback and her two dogs.

At approximately 11:19 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a missing 2-year-old girl in the Molalla River Recreation Area. This area is maintained by the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, and is located about 10 miles south of Molalla.

The girl, Iris Nix, went missing on a walk with her grandmother, Gayla Ann Jay, who is also a Molalla resident. Gayla told the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office that her granddaughter had run up the trail out of sight.

While trying to catch up to her, Gayla came to a four-way split in the trail and did not know where Iris was. After searching for 15 minutes, Gayla sought out help.

There is very limited cellular reception in the area, which made it difficult to obtain detailed information. Dispatch received two initial calls — one from a passerby who was flagged down by a grandmother who stated she had lost her grandchild.

The second call was from another passerby who was flagged down by a logger who stated they were looking for a missing child. In both cases, the caller had to travel to an area where there was cell-phone reception before calling 911.

Several Sheriff’s Office deputies and Molalla Police officers responded to the area, along with search and rescue coordinators. The grandmother had also flagged down several passing logging crews, who stopped and began to scour the area in an effort to find Iris.

Search & Rescue Coordinators also began summoning resources and directing deputies and officers in the area. The Clackamas County Water Rescue Consortium was summoned, due to the proximity to the Molalla River. Resources from across Clackamas County deployed to the area to assist.

Residents in the area also spontaneously stepped up to help. Among them: Tammy Stevens, 59, of Beavercreek.

Tammy was riding her horse “Bo” on a Molalla River Recreation Area trail along with her two dogs — miniature Australian Shepherds named Wilson and Maddie. When Tammy heard there was a missing 2-year-old in the area, she immediately joined the search, scouting the terrain on horseback, flanked by her two dogs.

Tammy described some of the terrain she was checking as steep and dangerous. After about 20 minutes of searching, Tammy heard a child crying. She told Wilson, “Go get her.”

Wilson led Tammy to a very steep hill. Tammy dismounted. Tammy and Wilson then climbed up the hill together — about 70 feet up — and found Iris. It was just after 1 p.m.

About 10 minutes later, Tammy found Dave, a logger who had been out searching as well. Dave was able to bring Iris to where deputies and medical personnel were staged.

Iris was checked out by paramedics with Molalla Fire and reunited with her family.

Iris was found off Looney’s Trail, about a half mile from Hardy Creek.

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office thanks Tammy, Dave and many others who were in the area searching for Iris and contributed to her safe return.

Interview with Tammy Stevens, courtesy the CCSO:

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