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Family Says Body Found in Idaho may be Missing Hiker

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Remains found earlier this week in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho may be those of a Minnesota native who disappeared a year ago while climbing.

"We are hopeful that we've found him," said Jocelyn Francis Plass, the sister of Jon Francis.

She said the remains were found Tuesday by mountain guides who rappelled down into crevices to search for the man's remains.

On Wednesday, she said Custer County authorities were trying to get to the scene to examine the remains, but severe thunderstorms in the area were slowing their progress.

"A deputy sheriff and a member of the coroner's office are back on the mountain, but the weather is horrible," she said.

Plass said the Custer County authorities were not letting the family near the remains, so all they could do was wait for an official confirmation of the identity.

"We're hoping it's Jon, but we're not sure," she said.

Jon Francis was a youth minister at Ascension Lutheran Church in Harrisville, Utah. He was working at a Bible camp in Idaho when he disappeared on July 15, 2006.

Friends have said he told his co-workers that he planned to climb the 9,733-foot Grand Mogul. Searchers said he made it to the top and signed the log book, but he didn't make it back down.

The search initially drew the attention of the governors of Idaho and Minnesota when Custer County officials called off the search, a move the family called premature. The family continued to organize searches, sometimes with professional guides.

Since Francis disappeared, the family created the Jon Francis Foundation, aimed at instructing hikers and climbers with basic safety and survival information. Plass is the executive director of that foundation.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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