The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office is working to discover how 57 year-old Egbert Pepper died after his body was found in the Klamath River near the Independence Creek Bridge on April 20.

Investigators have determined that Pepper was last seen alive on March 7 in the Happy Camp area, according to a press release from the sheriff’s office.

Because Pepper’s body was in a state of decomposition, the cause and manner of death haven’t been determined, said Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey. It appeared that Pepper had been in the river for some time, he added.

Pepper was most recently living in Happy Camp and was previously a resident of San Bernardino County, Lopey said.

Deputy Sammy Woods and Sergeant Josh Tygart responded to the area about 13.7 miles west of Happy Camp, along the SR 96 corridor just after 6:30 p.m. on April 20 and Karuk Tribal Security Officer Randy White assisted with a boat helped pull the body from the river.

Lopey said it’s routine to consider such deaths “suspicious” until more information emerges and called the effort to recover the body “a great example of excellent teamwork” and added that the Klamath River is a difficult waterway to navigate. The fact that the body was recovered quickly and before total darkness fell prevented what could have been a long search operation.

“On behalf of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, I would like to take this opportunity to offer our thoughts and prayers to Mr. Pepper, his family, friends, and associates,” said Lopey.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the county’s 24-hour dispatch line at (530) 841-2900.