Missing Grandfather From Arizona Found Dead

Keith OlsenYesterday, Southern Humboldt searchers located the body of Keith Olsen, the grandfather on his way from Arizona to his granddaughter’s wedding whose car was located on Zenia Mountain Road.  Diana Totten, Aurora Studebaker, Kristal Gray, and Casey Odisio discovered Olsen’s body not far from where his car had been abandoned.

Diana Totten said, “There was no evidence of foul play.” Totten has been working on the case since Tuesday when she was introduced to the family of Keith Olsen. Totten said her team met with the family to narrow down where the search should start and their investigation led them to believe that with Olsen beginning to have dementia issues, it was most likely that he had gotten lost rather than been the victim of a criminal act.

“Without any evidence of foul play, we narrowed our search area to where the car was located,” Totten explained. “We profile the person and you kind of get into their mind. We try to understand what they would do if things start going wrong.”

Totten said the family was very helpful in providing important details. “Having worked on many missing person cases, we have learned to build a profile of the missing person,” Totten explained. “We do this by talking to family members and others to try to understand how the person became lost and what they would do…In this case, the family was able to give great information such as his state of mind, his way of dealing with stress and his clothing and shoes, the fact he used a cane and had trouble walking, and many more indicators including his age and possibly some slight dementia.”

On Wednesday, the tracking team went to Covelo. “We checked a lot of video footage [from surveillance cameras at businesses] in the timeline that he might have come through the area,” she explained. “We felt pretty strongly working with the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office that he had come through the Covelo area.”

The team passed out missing person flyers in hopes some locals had seen him. Eventually, they decided their next step was to search again around the area Olsen’s car had been located.

On Saturday, the team arrived at the scene to look around. “We started to search for signs of him around where the car was located but had been towed last week,” Totten explained.  “Also, twelve days had passed and several rain storms had gone through our area.”

While at the location Olsen’s car had been discovered, the profile the family had helped provide the searchers helped them narrow down the search area. Totten said, “Within about 500 feet south of where the car had been, there was a cattle guard across the road. They are hard to cross by foot even on a good day, so knowing Keith had trouble walking and sometimes used a walker and most often used a cane, and realizing it was dark and storming the night he got to this location, it was unlikely he would have been able to get across without some difficulty.”

The cattle guard provided “a bit of boundary on the search area for us,” Totten explained. “We were then able to locate his tracks and we then were able to find his body.”

Totten said while they will probably never know for sure what happened, her team was able to make some good guesses.

She believes that somehow Olsen had gotten off of his intended path up I-5 and ended up on the wrong route. She said that it was likely dark and rainy when Olsen headed out what she called the “long, lonely road” between Covelo and Kettenpom. For some reason, she says, he stopped not long after going over a cattle guard. “He left his vehicle, he walked a short distance..It appeared that [Olsen] was disoriented…He took a wilderness deer trail and went further into the woods. This is a very rugged and forested area.”

Soon after Olsen took the wrong path, he stumbled, Totten said. According to her, his tracks showed that “he had fallen down a little hill and into a dry wash. He kinda crawled along through there….He got to a place that was a little flatter and laid down.” He didn’t get up again.

Totten said, “There doesn’t appear to be any foul play. Trinity County Sheriff’s Office will be investigating further.”

Totten is proud of her team. “Wilderness man-tracking is a very intricate and detailed discipline,” she explained. “Every case is like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

Totten said her team works hard to stay up on their skills so that they are “able to bring closure to families.”

Earlier Chapter: Grandfather Headed From Arizona to Washington State Disappears; Bullet Riddled Car Found in Zenia Area



  • Om mani padme hum 💛💐

  • Great work!!!!!

    So sad for him & his family. At least they have some answers & I hope they can find some peace.


  • I’m sorry to hear this. I was hoping for the best. The family tried so hard, doing everything that could be done. I hope they can, even while sorrowful, take comfort in at least knowing.

    If it helps, new cattle guards alway cause me to stop too, thinking I have strayed onto private property. So I can easily understand getting out to check.

    • Yep when just starting to drive, i wondered if i had a flat the first time i drove over one, if youve never driven on one i could see easily thinking somethings up with your tires and wanting to check.

  • This team is just irreplaceable! We are so lucky to have them. Thank you for finding closure for this poor family.

  • Diana you and your crew are aswsome……….Thank You for going the extra mile to find Keith…For his family

  • Seriously, how to donate to this team?

    500′ , some information and critcal thinking is all that separated the TCSO from completing something important.

    Detective J. Fords case?

    No surprise either way.

    I would like to hear feedback from searchers or family members on how helpful and important the TCSO was. Scale of 1-5.

  • Kudos to So Hum Technical Rescue Team AKA the Dream Team.

  • Diana,your team and you are so valuable to our area,you know it like the back of your hand. Thank you all

  • “May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

  • How terribly sad.
    Blessings to SHTR et al

  • The car was found bullet riddled yet no foul play?! Makes no sense at all!

    • It is believed by Diana Totten and, to my understanding, law enforcement, that the bullets were part of a pattern of vandalism against vehicles perceived to have been abandoned. There was no evidence that the bullets struck while someone was in the vehicle.

      • It’s too bad that some people in these outlying areas find vandalism, as in this case, more important than reporting an abandoned vehicle. Search processes could start much sooner and maybe a better outcome.

        • To be fair, in the past, reporting abandoned vehicles in rural areas seemed fairly futile–this is speaking as someone who joined with neighbors to pay for two vehicles to be removed. One had been there for months and had been reported multiple times.

          This is in no way an endorsement of vandalizing the vehicles just explaining that reporting the vehicles has not seemed to help. This past year, the vehicles do seem to be removed eventually though Salmon Creek has one that has been in the same spot about a month. Now the doors are gone. And, yes, it has been reported.

          • So right, Kym. There was a van on hwy 36 about at hwy 101 overpass. It sat there for over 1 1/2 months with no wheels up on blocks , and a yellow tag. It sure didn’t do much to help the reputation of Humboldt as summer visitors drove out to the parks and river.

          • In my neighborhood just West of my house around a mile from me, are 2 abandoned vehicles, or rather what is left of them!!! They have been sitting in the turnout alongside the road since early Summer!!! So far as I know looking at them while driving by there are few if any bullet holes in them!!!! Surprisingly as well they have NOT been Torched which in itself is amazing!!! They are easily visible from the road but as I said have been sitting there in a state of wreckage since early Summer!!! The cops don’t give a Flying Fig since they are off the road on private property!!!!

      • About shooting . where I’m from the guns are gone,mostly,bullets too.we sometimes sit around and insult each other for adrenalin . No one fights,it just not worth it . everyone is related , or something . Everyone knows each other . People seldom talk.spanish seems to facilitate person to person communication.ive spent most of my time stoned on pot.or inhaling vapors of ketamin . I could still circle town riding my bike with no hands on 1 gram a day . Not so good in a dart.you could fall from your tree.

      • Enhancements for shooting into people hiding or sleeping in cars.check your targets first.dont drive on nitrous.

    • Uh, do you live here? Do you ever drive rural roads here?
      Abandoned cars are usually stripped, graffiteed and/or shot up&burned.
      Just like road signs, and anything else that you can shoot while riding in a car are popular targets also. There are abandoned cars in every watershed and always outside of redway in pullouts.

      I highly doubt someone came by and shot up his car while he was near it. The car was towed after a few days.

      Please folks stop making things into a bigger drama than needed. Increasing fear is the last thing our world needs.
      This isnt reality tv, accidents happen and its pretty damn easy to slip and fall. We have endless miles of road with no guardrails or lighting, people from other places are used to those. Its easy to become disorientated.


  • Too often the discussion is law enforcement mis-behaving and when they do their job, is over looked.

    • Sorry but this wasnt law enforcement, they actually blew it,this was done by a group of dedicated volunteers.

      To be fair, trinity county is one of the poorest in the state and truly does not have the funding it needs at all.
      For such a rural place they really deserve some rescue dogs for searches.
      Combine with sheriffs/supervisors who still roll in the good ole boy network, and it results in not so great police work. They must not have looked very hard for him, probably just walked the road.

      • Well said. Of course this past summer when general services was out on strike, their raise was minimal. However the supervisors were able to afford to give themselves a nice raise. I think this is one of many reasons this county suffers.

  • At least he was found. That much will be a blessing for his family. RIP

  • Im thinking he got out of his car to go to the bathroom and then some local roughnecks came by and shot up his car. Scared and confused he retreated into the bush. Never able to return.

    • Got out took leak, fell ,the rest is history.

    • Almost certainly that is not what happened. The idea that locals swooped in and shot his car up almost immediately is highly unlikely. Steve is more likely correct.

      • I’ve seen a car lit on fire within an hour of being abandoned by the owner after a breakdown. Not to long ago there was a drive by on a group of campers at Ruth. It’s best to never put anything past locals and long time Humboldt residents, too much time living without laws changes people into outlaws with an untouchable god complex often with drug or alcohol issues that further them loosing touch with reality and making ethical, or even logical choices.

        P.s. How was it not completely obvious to everyone that that he got lost then died near his car from day one? It was crazy obvious to me, like obvious enough that it should be checked the day they found out about his car.

    • Marijuana growers most likely, your view is solid.

      • Ya we better thank those growers, who do you think funded the teams getting going in the first place???
        Thx for donating, southern humboldt has an awesome community support ethic that is fading a bit but has gotten amazing things going over the last 30 years!!!

  • Damn we are beyond lucky to have these amazing people here!!!!!
    Thank you so much to you all, you kick ass beyond belief, it really helps me feel safer knowing these folks are here. Your skills are better than the people getting paid to do that work.

    Condolences to the family, so sorry for your loss!! 🙁 But am glad you have closure. Im so glad you got hooked up with diana and company! Blessings to your family!

    Ok everyone, send these volunteer rescuers who just gave their time at the holiday to find this man some serious funds and love! Volunteer some time for them at their next fundraiser or make them a meal or just send a note of thanks.

    Kym, does briceland fire have a donation account at the credit union?


    The county office of emergency services has gotten grants for equipment for the team in the past, give them a call and let them know how much you appreciate the team and want to see more funding for them…..

    (707) 268-2500 – Business Hours
    (707) 445-7251 – After Hours

  • Why wouldn’t you start at the car first and then work your way back to freakin covelo or wherever? Once they determined the car was his and the sheriff’s cursory search failed, that’s when the private tracking team shoulda moved in. You don’t go oh, there’s the car, let’s go to covelo and check out gas station footage. Unreal. Not saying this woulda helped find the poor guy alive but come on.

  • >”Why wouldn’t you start at the car first and then work your way back to freakin covelo or wherever? ”

    Verified he was in the car in Covelo.
    Means a carjacking (or whatever) didn’t happen elsewhere. (Like on Hwy 101 or something…)
    Likely means he was with the car.
    Likely means his body could be found nearby.

    Probably could have found him earlier with either a police dog or scent hound.
    Don’t know if Trinity County has a police dog though.
    Pretty ‘sparse’ sheriff coverage over that county.

    Kudos to the search team !

  • So sad rest in peace awesome job again Diana does so much good for the community you and Kim

  • Sincere condolences to Mr Olsen’s family and thank you to our dedicated Rescue Team, there are not enough words to describe how awesome you all are. An absolutely amazing group that is all heart.

  • Proud Deplorable Grandma

    So very sorry to hear this. If the daughter, Kris, I believe her name is, then please accept our sincere condolences.

  • Right? They reported him missing right away it may have been some time before he passed .

    Please go find Chris Giauque now. Because someone got away with MURDER!

    Thank you .

  • This is his daughter, Kris. Thank you for your condolences. It appears that Dad’s car became disabled on the night of Monday, Nov. 13 when it was first reported by a rancher (we don’t know yet whether Dad ran out of gas or what) and he set out for help. Down the road was a cattleguard that he couldn’t cross due to his cane and walking difficulties so he headed downhill. Eventually he tired, became hypothermic and laid down to rest and simply never woke up. It was a rugged area that would be difficult to miss in the initial search. No signs of injury, struggle or anything… just a 74 year old man who stopped to rest. We believe he died that night in his sleep. It gives us great comfort to know that he didn’t suffer and it was over before any of us knew he was missing. Finding him earlier or reporting him missing earlier wouldn’t change the outcome. We still don’t have all of the information, but right now, we’re just grateful we know where he is and we can take care of him now. We are beyond grateful to Diana, Kym and the local sheriffs departments who all worked very hard on finding Dad. Thank you again.

  • It’s tradition when a man has walked as far as he can go in life to walk a bit further into the wild.
    There he lays his head and sleeps.
    Finally he has found peace.

  • Once the money pool for abandoned vehicles runs out that’s it. My uncle used to pick up all these vehicles years ago,made a good living too. He was a retired cop.when he passed that stopped. To bad someone couldn’t have taken over. There’s so many out their.AMAZING

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