Crews continue search for missing hiker

SANTA FE (KRQE) – After 36 hours, the search continues for a 75-year-old woman missing in the mountains near Santa Fe.

Audrey Kaplan
Audrey Kaplan

Thursday was day two and the second night of the search for Audrey Kaplan, of Dallas, Texas.

By 10 p.m. Thursday, the rain cleared up, but it created some flooding and now slick and steep terrain that makes it dangerous out there.

“It’s treacherous because of the rain, the forest has burned extensively in several of the areas we’re looking so there’s blow down, there’s trees that are unstable, falling hazards, tripping hazards, steep slopes, cliffs, you name it, it’s up there,” said Peter Dickson, Incident Commander with Search and Rescue.

The part-time Santa Fe resident was hiking with her husband Wednesday morning past the ski basin, gathering mushrooms for cooking.

News 13 is told Kaplan’s husband got tired, and waited for her at a trail head. She told him she would be back in a few minutes, but she never returned.

Search crews said Thursday they have two good leads. They found two sets of tracks they believe could be Kaplan’s, and they’ve had two separate calls from hikers saying they thought they heard a woman shouting for help Wednesday.

Twenty-one teams and about 75 people, both volunteers and law enforcement are looking for Kaplan.

Lightning and rain halted the ground search Thursday evening, but a National Guard black hawk searched overnight for her using infrared.

Her family says the 75-year-old woman often explores this area.

“She’s not young, but she’s an experienced hiker and an experienced mushroom gatherer and she knows the area reasonably well, but obviously not the area where she found herself,” Dickson said.

One of the biggest challenges, Dickson explained, is that since she would have been gathering mushrooms, she would have strayed into the forest and off of the trails.

The temperature cooled overnight, and search crews reported she was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt, but no jacket.

Kaplan did not have a cellphone on her, but it likely wouldn’t have helped much, since there is limited cell service out there.

Ground crews will head back out early Friday morning.

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