After five days of extensive searching, today the National Park Service (NPS) is reducing the scale of the search for two hikers who went missing at Grand Canyon National Park on Saturday, April 15. The hikers are identified as Lou Ann Merrell, 62, and Jackson Standefer, 14.
On Saturday evening, April 15 the NPS received an alert from a personal locating beacon in a backcountry area of Grand Canyon National Park near the confluence of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River. An Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter flew to the location where a hiking party reported two members of their party missing.
The party reported that Merrell and Standefer were last seen crossing Tapeats Creek below the confluence with Thunder River when they lost footing and were swept down Tapeats Creek.
Beginning the morning of Sunday, April 16 and lasting through the end of the day Wednesday, April 19, the NPS searched extensively in both the Tapeats Creek area and the area of the Colorado River below the confluence with Tapeats Creek (approximately Colorado River Mile 134). [Click here for a picture of the area] Three teams (approximately 20 people total) searched ground areas along Tapeats Creek and the Colorado River each day staying in the field overnight.
In order to cover areas that were inaccessible to the ground searchers, each day the NPS also utilized a helicopter and crew, an unmanned aerial system (UAS) and operator, and an inflatable motor raft and associated search team.
Arizona Department of Public Safety and Uintah County Search and Rescue (Uintah County Sheriff’s Department) assisted in the search.
Today the NPS will focus search efforts along the Colorado River below the confluence with Tapeats Creek with a search crew operating an inflatable motor raft. If no additional information is discovered or received today, starting Friday April 21 the search will continue in a limited and continuous mode focused on public outreach and search efforts during regular backcountry patrols. The NPS will continue to follow up and investigate any new information that it receives.
Lou Ann Merrell is the wife of Randy Merrell, an accomplished boot maker and president of Merrell Shoe Company. Click here for an article about the family and their business, as well as their efforts to locate their family members.