Search Suspended for Missing Hiker in Joshua Tree National Park

Active search operations for a missing hiker in Joshua Tree National Park were scaled back Friday. NPS photo of helicopter used to ferry searchers into the field.

After a week of fruitless searching, National Park Service authorities at Joshua Tree National Park on Friday suspended a search for a Georgia man who disappeared on a hike.

William Ewasko, 65, of Marietta, Georgia, was reported missing last Friday, June 25, and was believed to have been hiking in the Quail Mountain area of Joshua Tree. Search-and-rescue operations had been operating under a unified command structure with the Riverside County Sheriffs Department.

Riverside County announced that it will also be terminating active search operations effective July 2, and will continue to handle the incident as a missing persons case, the park said in a release. The Park Service will support the county’s ongoing investigation into Mr. Ewasko’s disappearance.

Acting Park Superintendent John Slaughter emphasizes that while the park is scaling back active search operations, the search itself is not over and will continue on an intermittent basis as park staff and search-and-rescue volunteers are available.

“We are not done looking for Mr. Ewasko,” said Superintendent Slaughter, “and we’ll keep searching as part of our regular park operations.”

More than 100 volunteers took part in search-and-rescue operations in the Quail Mountain area, and they contributed over 1,400 hours of ground search activity aided by equestrian search teams, trained dog teams, and air support, the park noted. Dozens of additional staff members and volunteers provided logistics support for the extended search effort with hundreds of contributed hours.