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Search called off for missing Victoria man after fall from cliff in Oregon

Friends raising money for the family of 51-year-old Joe Lescene
Joe Lescene. (Facebook)

Correction: An earlier version of the story listed Lescene’s death as Sept. 11. He died Sept. 10.

An online fundraiser for a Victoria-area man who is presumed to have died while hiking in Oregon, has surpassed its goal.

Joseph McDonald Lescene, 51, died Sept. 10 after he fell 800 feet (approx. 244 metres) into the ocean while hiking a cliff near Devil’s Cauldron, or Elk Flats, in Oswald West State Park in Tillamook Country, Oregon. He has not yet been recovered and the U.S. Coast Guard has ceased active search efforts.

According to the Oregon State Police, a 9-1-1 call was made that afternoon after other hikers heard the cries of Sarah Jones Lescene, who was hiking with her husband. The police reported that Lescene had lost his footing on a bluff near the end of the trail.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Oregon State Police, Manzanita Police Department, Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office, Nehalem Bay Fire and Rescue and Tillamook Regional Medical Center Ambulance responded to the scene. A backpack in the water below the cliff was recovered, which Lescene had been wearing at the time of the fall.

Police stated foul play is not suspected and the investigation is ongoing.

“We understand that this is a difficult time for the family and we will make every effort to bring closure for his family,” stated Sergeant Yvette Shephard, assisting public information officer for the Oregon State Police, in an email.

The GoFundMe fundraising campaign was started by Nancy Sheppard of Saanichton on Sept. 13 and in one day, had raised close to $10,000, surpassing its goal of $8,000.

“Sarah and Joe were on their annual romantic Oregon Coast getaway and had stopped at a state park to enjoy the coastline and its beauty,” stated the campaign post. “Joe lost his footing and fell 800 ft. to the ocean below. Sarah has lost her husband, soulmate and best friend.”

“Joe is survived by his adoring wife Sarah and his beautiful girls Ofelia and Sofia who are all overcome with grief. Joe was an amazing husband, father and friend to so many. There is not one person that Joe met that he didn’t make smile and laugh, he brightened every room he entered and loved all his friends so dearly.”

Lescene was a civilian employee at the CFB Esquimalt’s Fleet Maintenance Facility. According to LCdr/Capc John Nethercott, senior public affairs officer for Maritime Forces Pacific, Lescene had retired from the Royal Canadian Navy prior to taking the civilian job.

“The passing of any member of our defence team is terrible news. Our thoughts are with his family during this difficult time.”

— with files from the Oregon State Police