A multi-day search for missing 14-year-old Jackson Standefer and step-grandmother Lou Ann Merrell in Grand Canyon National Park is winding down, with authorities drawing back some efforts after five days of intense search-and-rescue work by park rangers, Arizona Department of Public Safety and county search and rescue officials, according to the Washington Post.
The Post reports that a statement from the family confirms the move to scale back search efforts and supports the decision: “After carefully considering all the information available to us, and based on our personal knowledge of the search area, we support Grand Canyon National Park’s (GCNP) decision to scale back the search.”
Standefer and Merrell have been missing for over one week and are now presumed drowned in the waters of Tapeats Creek, which feeds the Colorado River that carved out the canyon’s famed walls. Their party, four in all, were hiking in a remote area of the park under the North Rim. Randy Merrell, wife of LouAnn, was one of two who watched them fall while crossing. Merrell founded the boot company that bears their name.
Mark McOmie, uncle of Jackson Standefer, posted thanks to those involved in searching and confirmed memorial services for the missing pair:
We as a family appreciate the National Park Services efforts in the search. The search consists of community outreach and routine back country patrols at this time. We pray they find something to help us gain closure, we remain hopeful. We would like to thank the National Park Service for their diligent search efforts.
All family members are back in Chattanooga, TN or Vernal, Ut respectively. LouAnn Merrell’s services are this evening Sunday April 23 in Vernal Utah.
A celebration of life for Jackson Standefer will be held at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. On Wednesday April 26th at 7:00 pm. in the main chapel.
We have been amazed at the tremendous outpouring of love from our community. It truly helps at this the most difficult of times.
Hopeful residents of Standefer’s hometown of Chattanooga erected a billboard in support of search and rescue efforts.
One item recovered during the search was Standefer’s GoPro camera, however. McOmie posted some of the final photos on the device, likely the final photos of the two missing.