Search for missing hikers in Grand Canyon being scaled back

A relative of two hikers missing in the Grand Canyon since last weekend says the Merrell Boot Co.is donating search resources to find LouAnn Merrell and her 14-year-old step grandson, Jackson Standefer. It has five drones, capable of peering into crevices and other places unreachable on foot. The park service has also been using drones to search for the pair in areas that are hard to reach on foot.

Despite ongoing rescue efforts by the National Park Service for missing Grand Canyon hikers LouAnn Merrell, 62, and her stepgrandson Jackson Standefer, 14, the mission has been scaled back, according to NewsChannel 9 in Phoenix, Az.

Park spokeswoman Robin Martin says the search for 62-year-old LouAnn Merrell and her 14-year-old stepgrandson, Jackson Standefer, will continue Thursday with the use of a helicopter, drone and motorized inflatable raft.

The park soon scaled back the operation and stopped using the drones but continued the search.

The McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, said Jackson is an eighth-grade student at the all-boys school.

The National Park Service says the search for two missing hikers related to the co-founder of the Merrell Boot Co.is hard and complex but it is not requesting any additional resources at this time.

The rescue team included neighbors and former colleagues of Lou-Ann Merrell, 62, a 10-year volunteer emergency medical technician and the wife of Merrell Boot Co. founder Randy Merrell.

With its steep cliffs, almost 2,000 square miles and mesmerizing views, the Grand Canyon can be as risky as it is captivating.

Rangers were confronted with 1,200 medical emergencies, 293 search-and-rescue missions and 17 deaths in 2016, a year in which the park had almost 6 million visitors.

Thursday, drones aided the search for the pair.

Tomorrow, added Vandzura, the National Park Service will move to a "limited continuous mode of searching, which includes a public education outreach campaign asking hikers and tour groups for leads, and having park rangers continue to keep their eyes open during their shifts". He said the Grand Canyon's extreme topography — it is a mile deep — makes it a ideal candidate.

He said Lou-Ann and Randy Merrell, who was also on the trip, live in Utah in a city on the eastern side of the state.

"It's a wonderful tool for the unfortunate situation we just found ourselves in at Grand Canyon", Doyle said. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. "We believe families are forever and we will be reunited with our loved ones".

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