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Woman's body found

By BRIAN COLE, Herald and News, Klamath Falls, OR published April 3, 2003

Divers recovered the body of an elderly woman from an irrigation ditch after she apparently wandered from her Newell home and fell in the ditch Wednesday morning.

Betty Buck, 75, lived in a ranch-style home on Modoc County Road 113A. Her grandson, Brent Meisner, also lives at the home. He contacted authorities about 2 a.m. Wednesday when he could not find Buck.

The Modoc County Sheriff's Office initiated a search immediately. Sheriff's Posse volunteers were assisted by the Tulelake Fire Department and Klamath County Dive and Rescue in the search for Buck.

Her body was discovered about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Buck, who had lived in Newell for about 30 years, had been ill, said Modoc County Undersheriff and Assistant Coroner Mark Gentry. Her family took her to a doctor Monday. She had having difficulty standing up, and may have had an adverse reaction to medicine.

"She had a flu for a while, and doctors put her on a medicine that kind of knocked her down," said Dwight Meisner, Buck's son who lives in Portland. "It caused her to hallucinate. She became disoriented and wandered into the irrigation canal."

While still dark, searchers drove on the surrounding roads searching for Buck.

"We had 22 posse volunteers," Gentry said, "the Tulelake Fire Department had at least 25 searchers." Newell pilot Nick Macy conducted a search from the air.

"Klamath County is fortunate to have resources in volunteers like the dive rescue team," said Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger. "They would much rather be in rescue mode rather than in recovery mode. But the members and volunteers are glad to help our neighbors anytime."

Buck apparently stumbled into a full irrigation ditch about 60 feet from the house. The two-acre property where she lived is surrounded by irrigation ditches.

The ditch in which Buck was found was at least 5 feet deep, said Gentry, who added that an autopsy revealed the woman died from drowning.

"She was rough and tough," Dwight Meisner said, "but she had a heart of gold when it came to helping others. She's resting now - no more pains, no more worries."

Reporter Brian Cole covers public safety and courts. He can be reached at 885-4416 or (800) 275-0982, or by e-mail at bcole@heraldandnews.com.

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