Originally Published: April 29, 2017 6 a.m.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — The Grand Canyon National Park says a body that was found on Friday is likely of a 14-year-old hiker who went missing nearly two weeks ago while in the bottom of the canyon during a family trip.
Jackson Standefer of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was crossing a creek on April 15 when he and his step-grandmother, LouAnn Merrell, lost their footing and were swept away.
Park rangers spent days searching with a helicopter, ground crew, drone and motorized inflatable boat. The search was scaled back last week.
Park officials said the body was found during a commercial river trip. It was transported by helicopter to the Coconino County Medical Examiner, which will confirm identification.
Standefer was an eighth-grade student at The McCallie School, an all-boys boarding institution in Chattanooga.
School spokesman James Tanner said Friday the school had no comment because it had just learned of the news. But Tanner said Standefer was active in outdoors programs, crew team and a youth Christian group.
Mark McOmie, Standefer’s uncle, also said the family was waiting to comment until the body was formally identified. He described his nephew as a loving and well-loved boy who was always smiling.
LouAnn Merrell, the wife of Merrell Boot Co. co-founder Randy Merrell, has not been found. Merrell is from Utah.
The two went missing during a hike from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to an area known as Tapeats Creek. They were on a trip with Standefer’s mother and LouAnn’s husband, Randy.
Tapeats Creek is in a remote area of the Grand Canyon that isn’t frequented as often as other popular areas.
Experienced hikers say it’s an arduous hike down the canyon that ends in stunning and unique views of the canyon.