GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — The fate of a woman who went missing two weeks ago while on a Grand Canyon hike with her step-grandson remains an unknown while their family awaits the positive identification of a body found in the park and believed to be the 14-year-old boy.
The two went missing April 15 while in the bottom of the canyon during a hike from the North Rim to an area known as Tapeats Creek.
The Grand Canyon National Park says a body found Friday by a commercial river trip is likely Jackson Standefer, of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The body was taken by helicopter to the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office, which will confirm the identification.
Mark McOmie, Standefer’s uncle, said the family is waiting to comment until the body is formally identified. He described his nephew as a loving and well-loved boy who was always smiling.
Standefer and LouAnn Merrell were on a trip with Standefer’s mother and LouAnn’s husband, Randy, co-founder of Merrell Boot Co. Authorities say the teenager and his step-grandmother were crossing a creek when they lost their footing and were swept away. The Merrells are from Utah.
Park rangers spent days searching with a helicopter, ground crew, drone and motorized inflatable boat. The search was scaled back last week.
Standefer was an eighth-grade student at The McCallie School, an all-boys boarding institution in Chattanooga.
School spokesman James Tanner said Friday the school had no comment because it had just learned of the news. But Tanner said Standefer was active in outdoors programs, crew team and a youth Christian group.
Tapeats Creek is in a remote area of the Grand Canyon that isn’t frequented as often as other popular areas. Experienced hikers say it’s an arduous hike down the canyon that ends in stunning and unique views.