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Tue, June 02

Backcountry hikers missing near Tapeats Creek in Grand Canyon

Jackson Standefer was last seen April 15 near the confluence of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River.
Photo submitted to ABC15 by the Standefer family

Jackson Standefer was last seen April 15 near the confluence of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Search and rescue crews are still combing the area near Tapeats Creek and Thunder River, where two backcountry hikers went missing April 15.

Family members have identified the missing hikers as 62-year-old LouAnn Merrell and her stepgrandson, 14-year-old Jackson Standefer.

Helicopers, a boat crew, a ground crew and drones have all been dispatched to the area to aid in the search, said Chief Ranger Matt Vandzura.

Searchers have located both hikers' backpacks with their belongings still inside. Family members said Merrell is a "very experienced backpacker."

On April 15 the National Park Service received an alert from a personal locating beacon in a backcountry area of the near the confluence of Tapeats Creek and Thunder River. An Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter flew to the location where a hiking party reported two members of their party missing.

The hiking party reported the two hikers were last seen crossing Tapeats Creek below the confluence with Thunder River when they lost footing and were swept down Tapeats Creek.

The first hiker is described as a 62-year-old female, approximately 5’5,” and 145 pounds, with blonde hair and green eyes. She was last seen wearing khaki zip-off shorts, a blue/green button down short sleeve shirt, and blue water shoes.  She was carrying a homemade blue backpack with a maroon fleece and hiking poles attached.

The second is described as a 14-year-old male, approximately 5’8,” and 105 pounds, with black hair. He was last seen wearing black Nike shorts, a long sleeve white Columbia t-shirt with “COLUMBIA” written on the sleeve, and navy blue Chaco sandals. He was carrying a new sage green backpack. 

NPS crews were flown to the scene and are searching the Tapeats Creek area. Backcountry hiking groups and Colorado River trips in the area have also been alerted.

No further information is available at this time.  Any individual with information should contact NPS at 928-638-7805.

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