Body of missing Weiser man found in Wallowa County

The body of a Weiser man missing since January was recently recovered in Wallowa County in Oregon.
 Alberto (Al) Sillonis, 85, was presumed dead following a search on the Snake River near fishing docks at Hells Canyon Visitor Center in Baker County. 
 Sillonis left his home on Monday, Jan. 17 and had planned to return later in the day. He was last seen around 2 p.m.
 Family contacted authorities around 6 p.m. that evening when he did not return.
 Sillonis’ Nissan Frontier was found in the parking lot of the visitor’s center just after 9 p.m. and his fishing gear, including one pole with line still in the water, was discovered near the water’s edge.
 “I got called by the Baker County Sheriff’s Office that they had sent two deputies at the request of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office,” Wallowa County Sheriff Joel Fish said of the initial missing person report. “They located his fishing poles, his pickup unlocked, and then the next day we found his hat floating.”
 An extensive search was conducted near the docks and the shoreline, and Idaho Power employees used a SeaBotix, a remotely operated vehicle equipped with underwater camera and sonar, to aid the search.
 “We did a search of the river and didn’t locate anything,” Fish said.
 The search was suspended on Thursday, March 20 when no further sign of Sillonis was found.
 A public information officer for Baker County Sheriff’s Office verified that authorities suspected he went into the water at some point and was not able to get back to the dock or the shore.
 “[It] is our belief he had been on that dock and didn’t make it out of the water,” Ashley McClay told the Argus Observer on March 20.
 Though Sillonis had not yet been found, he was presumed dead, his family publishing an obituary in the Feb. 23 edition of the Weiser Signal American.
 Three weeks later, he was found in Wallowa County.
 In mid-March, a man was presumably recreating when he discovered the body and contacted authorities.
 “On March 16, we were notified that a man was on the river and located a deceased person,” Fish said. “Our deputy, along with a special agent with the U.S. Forest Service and officers with Idaho Fish and Game, went up with our medical examiner and retrieved Mr. Sillonis on March 17.”
 Sillonis’ wallet was still in his pocket, allowing authorities to make initial positive identification.
 The obituary published on Feb. 23 was both heartfelt and humorous, capturing his personality and apparent love for life. The family expressed love and affection for Sillonis who was a Korean War veteran and later worked for the U.S. Forest Service, retiring in 1994. Between his stint in the U.S. Army and employment with the USFS, Sillonis spent 38 years in government service.
 “While some family and friends were quick to speculate that he was in the witness protection program, had been abducted by aliens, or kidnapped by a femme fatale, the prime suspect was identified as the river. Somehow, he fell in and did not survive. While Al practiced catch and release most of the time, the river has not been so cooperative,” the obituary states.
 Sillonis enjoyed photography, hunting, skiing, camping, traveling, picking huckleberries, and bowling, among other things. 
 He was a member of the Indian Head Fly Fishing Club and was good at making friends.
 “Al was a friend to many and a stranger to none because he talked to everyone who crossed his path, regardless of whether they wanted to or not,” the obituary states. “Al will be dearly missed by his wife of 50 years, Jeanette, daughters Diana and Tresa, sister Cecilia Lodzinski, brother Mateo (Mike) Sillonis, extended family members, and friends.”


Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

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