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No Sign Of Missing Hiker In Grand Canyon National Park, Search Being Scaled Back


Ground crews were assisted by aerial searchers during the hunt for a missing hiker in the Grand Canyon. NPS photo.

A lack of clues in the search for a missing hiker in Grand Canyon National Park has prompted a decision to begin scaling back the effort.

While rangers will on occasion continue to look for Robert A. Williams with dogs near cliff areas, aerial efforts and more intensive ground searches will end. Mr. Williams, 69, of Surprise, Arizona, was reported missing by his family after failing to return from a Memorial Day Weekend trip to the Grand Canyon.

While rangers were able to narrow their search to the Hermit Basin area west of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, an extensive search by helicopter, ground searchers, and a dog team yielded no clues as to Mr. Williams’ whereabouts. The decision to scale back the active search 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.

Mr. Williams' daughter, Lisa Clarke, said her family “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.”


Anonymous, I think about your friend, Bob, every day and pray they find him. I check this time first thing every morniing because I have people I love and if they disappeared, I'd want the world to turn itself upside down to find him. Good luck.

We knew Robert Williams personally and appreciated all of the reporting we found online because when you care about someone who is missing under dire circumstances, there's not enough news, if you know what I mean. This is about Bob and not about any reader's opinion. Please keep the news coming as we still hope and pray for his safe return to his family.

Sorry for misspelling your name, MRC. Got to cut these nails down and ease up on the painkillers. Hate to misspell--a journalist's worst mistake. So I apologize for that.

You can excuse it with saying I lead a sheltered life--pretty difficult for a newspaper reporter--but what you said lacked local empathy for what people go through when their loved ones are missing. Are you actually equating tabloid stories to the details of a missing person's story? Like I said, I'm sure glad we're not related. Here you have a world-wide site that could alert someone about something they may have seen they didn't think was important to the time and may help find missing or injured people. In fact the family of this particular man has written a post asking for people's prayers and concerns so . A lot of people turn to the press, and that's what this is, when nobody else--like MCR?--is interested in helping them. My favorite part of reporting was helping people with problems when others wouldn't. Print reporting has an advantage in that it doesn't live off sound bites and can give the particulars of a story and it seems to me that while the "big picture" is important, it aso has a really neat way of dodging facts people may not want known and sometimes the devil is in the details. P.S. God may not need that info you talked about--but an unwitting witness may. Kurt, you are these peoples' lifeline. Keep it up.

As a frequent visitor to many National Parks, I appreciate these articles. If I see an article like this for an area I may soon be visiting and I know someone is missing, then I will keep an eye out and pay much closer attention for any signs or clues while out hiking. In addition, articles like this make me double check my plans and make sure I am fully prepared.


I am reminded of the preface to the book Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite. The author of the preface said something like, "this isn't a book about death; it's a book about life." His point was that we learn from the mistakes of others. Recounting the tragedies that occur in national parks makes the readers of those accounts more thoughtful, careful visitors. As a former ranger, I am all in favor of that.

Rick Smith

Actually MRC there's a lot to learn from accidents. Hiking the canyon is a little more than a walk around a suburban neighborhood, yet every day numerous people don't prepare adequately. Sorry that personalizing the story rubs you the wrong way, but if you don't know the poor soul then I fail to see how knowing his name, age, hometown, etc does YOU any harm. Rather than the multitude of impersonal warnings throughtout GCNP which routinely go unheeded, perhaps one report of such can help prevent those who don't yet fully realize the natural hazards abound.

"I would prefer to have at most one accident related article per month."

Gee MRC, I'd prefer not to have any at all...somehow it just never works out that way. Sorry people can't arrange their fate to fit the convenience of your schedule.

Dear Lynn, if my comment is the "most cold-hearted thing you've ever seen ..." then you must live a very sheltered life. Now I've proven, that I too can play the game of ad hominem criticism. But I prefer not to. And as if I don't know that today's journalism revolves around personalizing every story. But maybe that's what's wrong with it nowadays. By digging into the personal details, journalism neglects to build the big picture. By breaking stories down to sound bites and effect, connections and context don't get their share of reporting.

Back to the Traveler: The concentration on accidents is a pretty recent development here. 20 stories on accidents in May 2009 versus 6 in May 2008 - true, the total number went up too, but the rise is notable. And I believe those stories lack relevancy. Kurt, are you happy with writing about accidents so much? Is this what you intend with this blog?

The families gains nothing from knowing that the name of their beloved one will be forever connected in the global media archives with an unfortunate accident, and those who wish to pray for the safety of a missing person can do so for "the missing hiker in Grand Canyon". God does not need name, profession, hometown and age of the missing.

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