Grand Canyon rangers: Body found likely that of missing Tennessee teen

Grand Canyon rangers: Body found likely that of missing Tennessee teen
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A search continues in Grand Canyon National Park for two hikers missing since they were swept down a remote creek.
Wochit

Grand Canyon Park rangers claim they may have found the body of a missing 14-year-old Tennessee boy on the Colorado River.

Rangers said Jackson Standefer was swept away in the canyon along with his 62-year-old step-grandmother Lou-Ann Merrell earlier this month. The two were reported missing on April 15, after losing their footing while crossing Tapeats Creek.

On Friday, a commercial river trip operator notified the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center that a body was found on the river.

Park officials said that body may be Standefer from Chattanooga. The body has been taken to the Coconino County Medical Examiner to confirm identification. The medical examiner’s office and the National Park Service will conduct an investigation into the incident.

Park officials did not provide an update on Merrell, who remains missing. A multiday search-and-rescue operation has been launched.

Three days after they were reported missing, family members identified the hikers to the Associated Press.

Mark McOmie, Standefer’s uncle, said the boy was on a family hiking trip with his mother, Merrell, and her husband Randy Merrell, the co-founder of Merrell Boot Co.

Officials were alerted to the two when an emergency GPS locator beacon was set off below the canyon’s North Rim. McOmie said the Merrells were frequent hikers and were very familiar with the area. He hoped their experience and hiking background would help them survive.

“If they can get to a spot where they cannot be in the water and stay warm, she’s got the skills needed to get them through it,” McOmie told the Associated Press. “The odds aren’t great. But given their skills and knowledge of the area, that will probably lead to the best possible outcome.”

When their backpacks were found, the family had “mixed feelings,” AP reported. They were concerned they didn’t have access to their gear, although it looked as if they were able to take the backpacks off.

 Associated Press contributed to this article.

Grand Canyon rangers: Body found likely that of missing Tennessee teen

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