What happened to Aron Christensen? Friends frustrated by lack of information after a man was found dead near Lake Walupt in August

Investigation into death of Portland man and dog found on Walupt Lake Trail in August continues

By Emily Fitzgerald / emily@chronline.com

Aron Christensen had 20 years of experience hiking and camping on his own, so none of his friends moved their eyes when he split up from group camping at Walupt Lake Campground to the south- east of Randle to do a solo hike of about 13 miles on Friday, August 19.

Christensen and his Aussie pup, Buzz, left the group of 16 friends he was camping with around 8.30am, intending to return in time to help prepare burgers for a Saturday night dinner at the campsite.

When Christensen hadn’t returned by 2 or 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon, campers began to worry.

“Everyone had their own thoughts, like ‘maybe he stopped to fish; maybe he left and turned around a bit and took a wrong turn. Nobody was thinking of anything, obviously, at the time,” said Kate Meredith, one of Christensen’s friends who was part of the camping group.

Her husband, Ezra Meredith, later told The Chronicle he thought of a friend who fell off a cliff while hiking in another forest five years before.

“Throughout that day, I was I was getting more and more worried about (Christensen), and I was kind of keeping it to myself… and I was just looking at my clock, I was looking at my watch like ‘is he back? He should be back,” Ezra Meredith said.

Some band members began cooking dinner without Christensen around 5 p.m., while others participated in the band’s annual cornhole tournament.

Shortly after, however, some noticed a police vehicle with its headlights on parked at the Walupt Lake trailhead, about 100 yards from the campsite.

“My wife, she came up to me and she said… ‘the cops are here now, when’s the best time to tell them we’re expecting someone?'” Ezra Meredith said.

Kate Meredith and another friend from the camping group eventually made it to the vehicle and spoke to a deputy from the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

They told the deputy that they were expecting a friend to return, and the deputy asked if their friend was alone.

No, they said, he had a dog with him.

“I just look at (the deputy’s) face,” Kate Meredith said, “And then I just saw. I just knew. And he said, ‘That’s why I’m here, I’m here to investigate on a death.’

Deputies responded to a report of a man who died on Trail 101 3 to 4 miles from Walupt Lake just after 3:55 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, according to the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

A hiker reportedly found Christensen’s body about 2 feet from his dog, who was also deceased.

“We just assumed he was holding Buzz, and he tripped and something happened. And that’s what happened to them both, and that’s why they both died,” said Kate Meredith.

The Merediths said they were initially told Christensen, 49, died of a heart attack, but were later told Christensen and his dog suffered puncture wounds.

Ezra Meredith said he looked for those injuries when asked by the Lewis County Coroner’s Office to identify Christensen’s body shortly before midnight on August 20.

Staff had removed Christensen from the trail and transported him to the trailhead by boat.

“I saw his face and obviously it was him. I knew it,” Ezra Meredith said.

Unable to see any blood or an obvious puncture wound on Christensen’s body, he said, “I just felt like that puncture wound wasn’t serious.”

Some time later, however, the Merediths learned that the puncture wounds may have been from a bullet that had passed through both Christensen and his dog.

At the time of this publication, two months after Christensen and Buzz were found dead, the Lewis County Coroner’s Office had not confirmed the cause or manner of death of Christensen or his dog.

“This cause/manner of death is pending further forensic investigation at this time,” Coroner Warren McLeod said in response to an Oct. 6 Chronicle inquest.

Other than confirming reports of deputies’ response to the report of a man who died on Runway 101, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office has not released details of the incident or subsequent investigation.

“Due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation, we are not providing many details at this time…Our agency is conducting an additional investigation and awaiting additional forensic findings,” said Dusty Breen, Chief of the Bureau of operations, in response to The Chronicle. initial survey via email on September 13.

When asked on Oct. 5 if there were any updates from the investigation, Breen said, “Detectives are still awaiting additional forensic findings before conducting any further investigation.”

The Merediths told The Chronicle that they had received unverified details from others familiar with the matter regarding Christensen’s cause of death and a potential suspect, but none of that information had been confirmed or confirmed. denied by the sheriff’s office.

“We all really want to understand what happened to (Christensen). And we’re all worried that we don’t,” Ezra Meredith said, later adding, “There’s a lot of people who are really upset about this. He was much loved. »

Christensen, a bassist, met Ezra Meredith, a recording engineer and producer, about 10 years ago and the two had been close friends ever since.

“He was extremely present. Probably the most attentive friend I’ve ever had,” he said. “Just a nice guy. He wasn’t rude. Just a really solid, solid dude.

Christensen had an established life in the Portland area, working at Cascade Record Pressing and spending his free time playing bass, singing, fishing and enjoying outdoor adventures with Buzz.

“Aron was simply the happiest I’ve ever seen him in all the years I’ve known him,” Kate Meredith said. “I’m really excited to have Buzz. We were talking about all the adventures he was excited to have a buddy to go on with.

Christensen spent years working in bars, including helping establish the Slingshot Lounge in Portland.

Slingshot closed on the Monday following Christensen’s death and hosted Christensen’s celebration of life a month later on September 24.

“They were closed (for) two days just because of the general devastation. And again, that’s just who he was,” Ezra Meredith said, later adding, “He’s my best friend. I just want justice. Really bad.”

“I try to keep it level, but without news it’s hard not to let the imagination take over,” Kate Meredith told The Chronicle. “Aron was one of the most generous and genuine people and deserves justice.”