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Contact: Shannan Marcak, 928-638-7958
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – On Tuesday, May 26, the National Park Service was notified that 69 year old Robert A. Williams of Surprise, Arizona had not returned from the Memorial Day weekend, and that his holiday plans had included hiking in Grand Canyon National Park.
On Wednesday, May 27, Mr. Williams’ car was found in the park, indicating that he might still be in the park’s backcountry. With no backcountry permit or known itinerary to work from, rangers began searching a broad area from Hermit Basin, located west of Grand Canyon Village, to the South Kaibab area east of the Village. The trails throughout this area could easily be accessed on foot or via shuttle from the point where Mr. Williams’ car was found.
On Friday, May 29, park rangers were able to narrow their search to the Hermit Basin area based on information received after issuing a public request for assistance to anyone who had hiked in the park’s backcountry during the Memorial Day weekend.
An extensive search by helicopter, ground searchers, and a dog team has yielded no additional clues as to Mr. Williams’ whereabouts. As a result, a decision has been made to begin scaling back search operations. This decision was based on the totality of circumstances, including the rugged and steep terrain, the length of time that Mr. Williams has been missing (he was last seen on Saturday, May 23), and the number of hikers and searchers that have passed through the area without finding any indications as to Mr. Williams whereabouts.
Park rangers will continue to use dogs and searchers on foot on a limited basis to examine cliff areas where a fall might have occurred.
The National Park Service is appreciative of the assistance provided by local and national media in reaching out to the public for information about Mr. Williams activities in the park. Lisa Clarke, daughter of Robert Williams and family spokes person adds, “My family and I wanted to thank those people who saw the initial news release about the search for my father and took the time to call in and share some very helpful information.”
Additional news releases will be issued only as new details become available.