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Crews ask for volunteers to continue searching for elderly hiker lost in Uintas

Crews ask for volunteers to continue searching for elderly hiker lost in Uintas

(Summit County Sheriff's Office)


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SUMMIT COUNTY — Crews are asking for volunteers to help in the search for a 74-year-old hiker from Arizona who went missing in the High Uintas Monday.

Melvin Heaps left for a day hike near the Crystal Lake trailhead but never returned, the Summit County Sheriff's Office said. After Heap's family alerted authorities, the county's search and rescue crew left that night to look for the man but were unable to find him. The search has continued ever since.

Some hikers reported seeing Heaps Monday while hiking, and the man's vehicle was found at the Crystal Lake trailhead, police said.

Rescue teams from Summit County, Wasatch County, the U.S. Forest Service and private dog teams are combing the rugged terrain on horseback, foot and by air, Summit County Sheriff's Lt. Andrew Wright said.

Crews had not originally sought volunteers because the search area was large and rugged. However, the Garrett Bardsley Foundation, an organization that provides resources to help search and rescue situations, will now be organizing search teams of volunteers.

About 20 volunteers showed up Thursday and about 35 Friday, but the Bardsley Foundation is hoping for many, many more.

"What they are asking is that people come prepared and have the physical capability to do some hiking in some rough terrain," Wright said. "So don't come up in flip-flops, don't come up in a tank top. It is high up, high elevation, very treacherous, dense forest area, so you need to be prepared with the proper clothing, footwear and obviously bring up your own hydration."

Those interested in volunteering can go up to the Crystal Lake trailhead where the Bardsley Foundation has set up a booth to organize anyone who comes. Volunteers must present a driver's license or some other form of identification.

"Our family appreciates all the support we have received from the Search and Rescue units, and the concern and interest of friends and family," Heap's family said in a statement Wednesday. "We continue to be hopeful because we know Mel and his love of the outdoors."

Heaps is a Caucasian male with brown hair and blue eyes. He is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds. Heaps is believed to be wearing a red long sleeve shirt and blue jeans with suspenders, according to police. He typically hikes with a straw hat.

Anyone with information as to his whereabouts can call the Summit County Sheriff's Office at 435-615-3600 or 435-615-3520. Those interested to learn more about volunteer search efforts can visit findgarrett.org.

Contributing: McKenzie Romero

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