MENDOCINO COUNTY (CBS SF) — The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether human remains found Wednesday in a river near the Mendocino-Humboldt county line are those of a missing Santa Rosa man.

A wildlife photographer spotted the remains around 9 a.m. but thought they might be those of an animal, the sheriff’s office said.

The photographer took pictures of the remains and contacted the Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Team to report the finding in the South Fork of the Eel River in Piercy, south of the county line.

The Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue Team then contacted the sheriff’s office. A swift water team rafted to the remains and confirmed they were those of a human who was entangled in branches of a downed tree lying partially in the Eel River, according to sheriff’s officials.

The team freed the body and took it to the shoreline where it was determined to be that of a white male adult approximately 50 years old, more than 6 feet tall with a heavy build. It appeared the man was in the water for a week or more and did not have any identification on him, sheriff’s officials said.

On Thursday, a Eureka woman contacted the sheriff’s office about her brother who failed to return home to Santa Rosa and had not been seen since he was leaving Eureka in mid-November.

The woman said she heard about the discovery of the remains in a news report, and she said she reported her missing brother to the Santa Rosa Police Department.

The missing person matched the description of the remains removed from the Eel River, and his vehicle was found near Confusion Hill about six miles upstream from where his body was found, the sheriff’s office said.

The cause of the man’s death hasn’t been determined. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. His identity is not being released until the remains are positively identified, according to the sheriff’s office.

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