Missing in Mesa Verde

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Rangers and other rescue workers are searching Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado for a 52-year old Texas man that was reported missing Sunday, June 9, according to the National Park Service.

Mitchell Stehling told his wife and parents he was going to visit Spruce Tree House. When he did not return, they notified park dispatchers. A hasty search of Spruce Canyon, Spruce Tree House, Petroglyph Trail and other trails on Chapin Mesa was initiated following the report. Crews were out early Monday morning expanding the search area on foot, by horseback and by helicopter. Two dog teams from Dolores Canine Search and Rescue are also assisting in the search. Approximately 30 people searched multiple trails and canyons until late evening.

Crews resumed their search this morning. They are being joined by 20 members of the San Juan National Forest Hot Shots bringing the total number of personnel involved to 50.

Temperatures in the park are in the 90s. The terrain consists of steep canyons and mesa tops at an elevation between 6,500 and 8,000 feet. Mr. Stehling was last seen wearing a brown shirt and hat, khaki shorts and hiking boots. He was not carrying any water or other gear.

Lake Mead body could be missing airman

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In June, an Air Force crew chief from Creech Air Base disappeared after going for a swim while boating on Lake Mead. This week, a dive company located and recovered a body believed to be that of Antonio Tucker.

Below is the National Park Service release on the operation.

For more background, check out this Air Force News piece.

April 17, 2013

BOULDER CITY, Nev. – The body of an adult male was recovered from Lake Mead April 17 during a permitted search and recovery operation. His identity has not yet been confirmed by the Clark County Medical Examiner.

Earth Resource Group, a Las Vegas-based search and recovery organization, obtained a permit to search for Antonio Tucker, a 28-year-old airman who presumably drowned at Lake Mead June 23. The group’s search efforts began April 15 within one square nautical mile of the point where Tucker was last seen in the Boulder Basin.

At around noon April 16, the group identified an object that appeared to be human using side scan sonar. After notifying National Park Service rangers, they deployed a remote operated underwater vehicle equipped with a camera and again located the object at a depth of 280 feet.

The National Park Service and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department planned to recover the body April 16, but strong winds postponed efforts.

Law enforcement officials returned to the scene around 9 a.m. April 17. The permitted crew and divers from LVMPD Search and Rescue brought the body to the surface at 10:48 a.m. where it was confirmed to be an adult male.

The Clark County Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy.

Grand Canyon body identified

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Park Service officials have identified a body discovered in Grand Canyon National Park on March 21 as that of missing Colorado resident Kaitlin Anne Kenney, but a cause of death hasn’t been released. Kennedy, 21, disappeared Jan. 11 while at a camp about 30 miles upstream from where her body was found. Here’s the National Park Service account:

Date: April 1, 2013

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – The body of a woman recovered from the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park on March 22 has been identified as that of Kaitlin Anne Kenney.

Kenney was last seen on the evening of Friday, January 11, at a river camp located near Tapeats Creek (river mile 134.5) on the north side of the Colorado River.

Rangers used the park’s helicopter to search the river corridor and area trails for two days after Kenney was reported missing. In addition, ground-based search and rescue teams thoroughly searched the accessible trails, beaches, drainages and backcountry areas in the vicinity.

With no additional clues to guide search efforts on land, the search was eventually scaled back to a continuous, but limited mode in which rangers and pilots continued to search for clues when in the area. In addition, flyers with Kenney’s picture and description remained posted at popular river trip launch and takeout points.

On Thursday, March 21, a private river trip reported finding a woman’s body in the river at about river mile 165. The next day, the body was transported to the rim by helicopter and transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

Late last week, the Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that the body was that of 21-year old Kaitlin Anne Kenney of Englewood, Colorado.

The National Park Service is continuing its investigation into Kenney’s death in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office. No additional information is available at this time.

Body recovered from Colorado River

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Authorities have recovered the body of a woman from the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon, but there is no word yet if it is the remains of an Englewood, Colo., woman who disappeared in earlier this year.

In January, we wrote about 21-year-old Kaitlin Anne Kennedy, who went missing during in river trip.

On Wednesday, boaters called rangers from a satellite phone to report finding a woman’s body at river mile 165 near Tuckup Canyon. The following morning, park rangers were flown to the area and brought the body back to the rim via helicopter, according National Park Service Officials.

The identity and other details haven’t been released pending positive identification and notification of relatives, but the Arizona Daily Sun pointed out the body was found about 30 miles down stream from where Kennedy disappeared.

For more information on Kennedy’s disappearance, go to:  http://blog.skulldiggersguild.com/2013/01/17/search-on-for-woman-missing-in-grand-canyon.aspx

Update: More on missing hikers

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The National Park Service put out the following release with additional information on the recently found hikers at Glacier. Read on:

Missing Hikers Were Well Prepared
Date: Oct. 16, 2012

Missing hikers Neal Peckens and Jason Hiser spent an additional five nights in the backcountry of Glacier National Park than they anticipated. The successful rescue of the hikers is credited to dedicated search and rescue personnel and Peckens and Hiser’s preparation and sense of situational awareness.

Glacier National Park Chief Ranger Mark Foust said, “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this incident, and perhaps we all can learn from this experience and these two men.”

Foust said, “These hikers were prepared with appropriate equipment and they used their situational awareness skills to determine how to respond to the unexpected in the backcountry.” A standard recommendation for anyone that may be lost is to “STOP” and that is exactly what they did; Stop, Think, Observe and Plan.

Glacier National Park is identified as one of the most beautiful places on earth, and can also be one of the most unforgiving places. Changing weather, steep/difficult terrain, and wildlife all contribute to the unique environment of the park. Without planning and awareness of an individual’s surroundings, accidents can happen. Visitors are strongly encouraged to plan for and enjoy all that Glacier National Park has to offer. This includes learning about the area you plan to visit, especially when traveling in the backcountry, and having the items you may need if the situation changes.

According to park rangers, Peckens and Hiser were planning to hike from the North Shore Trailhead at Two Medicine and camp at the Oldman Backcountry Campground on Tuesday, October 9. After spending the night in a backcountry campground as planned, they continued on their 17-mile hike on the east side of the park. They encountered winter conditions, including snow on the trail and very high gusts of winds as they hiked a section of trail on a ridge along the Continental Divide.

One of the hikers slipped and fell approximately 100 feet down a steep area. The hikers tried to parallel their hike for a bit, one above and one below. They determined the best approach would be for both hikers to be together, to go down the mountain and perhaps try another route back up.

They had a quality map of the area and when looking at it, extreme wind gusts blew it out of their hands. They continued down the mountain side and spent Wednesday evening in the Nyack Lakes area. They set up camp, including a fire.

On Thursday they started to hike back up the mountain by another route hoping to get back in the direction that they began. Weather conditions and mountainous terrain were challenging. They put considerable thought into what their best options would be. They decided to travel back down the wet and slippery terrain and wait for a break in the weather. The break in the weather did not come and they camped in this spot, near the headwaters of the Nyack Drainage at approximately 6,000 feet for the next four nights. They rationed their food, collected fire wood and materials to create a fire and smoke, turned their cell phones on during the day, displayed their space blanket for possible reflection during the day and used it to stay warn at night, and created a SOS message with logs.

On Monday, October 15, approximately 3 p.m. (MST) two Glacier National Park employees were searching on foot when one of the searchers saw colored flagging that led him to a tent, and the missing hikers. Peckens and Hiser were cold and wet, but in fairly good condition with no injuries.

Foust said, “Weather conditions certainly played a role in this incident, both for the hikers and for the search personnel.” The hikers were challenged to travel, stay warm and dry, and to maintain a fire. The search operation was hampered by low visibility and cloud cover, mud, snow and very windy conditions. Many of the searchers were still in the backcountry today and had to hike out in miserable conditions; rain, sleet, hail, snow and wind.

Peckens and Hiser communicated their appreciation to the searchers and were ready to travel home with family and friends.