Missing Grand Canyon Hikers: Body Of Jackson Standefer Found

Missing Grand Canyon Hikers:  Body Of Jackson Standefer Found

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (EON) – According to media reports Saturday, Grand Canyon Park rangers recovered a body on the Colorado River on Friday, which they say may be that of a 14-year-old Tennessee boy who was swept away in the canyon along with his step-grandmother.

The Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center was notified by a commercial river-trip operator that a body was seen on the river Friday

Park rangers  transported the body to the Rim by helicopter, where it was transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.

Park officials, in a press release, said they body may be that of Jackson Standefer of Chattanooga. The teen was reported missing April 15 along with his step-grandmother Lou-Ann Merrell, 62, after losing their footing while crossing Tapeats Creek.

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.

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.

No updated information was provided in the release on Merrell, who remains missing.


Original Story Below

The National Park Service it is focusing the search for two missing hikers, as of Thursday morning.

The NPS says the search for the two missing hikers 62-year-old LouAnn Merrell and 14-year-old Jackson Standefer related to the co-founder of the Merrell Boot Co. is difficult and complex and that it is not requesting any additional resources despite an announcement from the family that it planned on sending its own support.

A spokeswoman said Wednesday that the park service is working closely with the family  and is considering the resources their family has suggested donating. Standefer is a student at McCallie School in Chattanooga.

Today the NPS will focus search efforts along the Colorado River below the confluence with Tapeats Creek with a search crew operating an inflatable motor raft. If no additional information is discovered or received today, starting Friday April 21 the search will continue in a limited and continuous mode focused on public outreach and search efforts during regular backcountry patrols. The NPS will continue to follow up and investigate any new information that it receives.

A statement released on Thursday morning from Standefer’s uncle, Mark McOmie, says the National Park Service has announced it is ending the search.

“[Wednesday] evening, the National Park Service announced that they were calling off the search for Jackson Standefer and LouAnn Merrell, who have been missing in the Grand Canyon since Saturday evening. The families would like to thank everyone for their tremendous out pouring of love, prayers and support throughout this tragic ordeal. Please respect both families’ need for privacy as they come to process and seek God’s comfort during this difficult time. We believe families are forever and we will be reunited with our loved ones.”

The family announced late Tuesday night that the Merrell company would be providing climbers and rescuers and that the family of the missing boy was offering a military-grade drone to assist in the search. The Merrell company is owned by Wolverine Worldwide.

LouAnn Merrell, the wife of Randy Merrell, was with her husband, stepgrandson and the boy’s mother on a multi-day hike in a remote area of the Grand Canyon on Saturday when she and the boy lost footing and were swept away by water. (LouAnn Merrell has been previously referred to as Lou-Ann, which is how she identifies on her Facebook page, but a spokesman for the families of both hikers says it is spelled without a hyphen).

But the intense search for Merrell and Standefer continues, said spokeswoman Robin Martin.

The National Park Service on Wednesday again deployed three ground search teams, a helicopter, a drone and an inflatable motor raft.


Ground search crews have spent the night at the bottom of the canyon for several nights, although their searches only take place in daylight.

Martin said weather has also been about the same as the last few days, with clear and breezy daytime temperatures in the mid-90s and overnight lows in the 50s.

The Grand Canyon is consistently one of the most popular attractions in the United States, drawing nearly 6 million people last year.

But the park’s nearly 2,000 square miles, steep cliffs and mesmerizing views have often led to accidents and deaths.

The park service reported over 1,000 medical emergencies, 15 deaths and 318 search and rescue incidents in 2015, the last readily available data.

The remote area where the family was hiking on multi-day backpacking trip is at the bottom of the canyon near the North Rim, a much-less visited area of the park.

Experts like Matthew Nelson, the executive director of the Arizona Trial Association and a former Grand Canyon backpacking guide, say hiking down to the Tapeats Creek area where the two went missing is arduous and requires at least a couple of days and some experience in backpacking.

Nelson said in an Associated Press interview on Tuesday that the creek where Merrell and Standefer went missing can get heavy water flow after the winter, when snow from the North Rim melts and travels down the canyon.

He said that area is particularly hot during the day and doesn’t cool off very much because of the geology.

“This is one of the gems of backpacking in the Grand Canyon,” Nelson said.

Standefer’s classmates at McCallie continue to pray for his safe return.

The Merrell and Standefer families released the following statement Thursday morning:

This morning the Merrell and Standefer families are still praying for a miracle in Grand Canyon National Park. Today, April 20, the search for Lou Ann Merrell and Jackson Standefer will continue on a limited basis. After carefully considering all the information available to us, and based on our personal knowledge of the search area, we support Grand Canyon National Park’s (GCNP) decision to scale back the search.

We thank the GCNP staff for their exemplary service. We know they have done everything possible since Saturday, April 15, to find Lou Ann and Jackson. We also know countless people were praying for a much different outcome than this one. We felt your prayers and were sustained by them in ways we cannot begin to describe. We are profoundly grateful for the support that continues to pour in from across the country.

We thank GCNP, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Uintah County (Utah) search and rescue, Merrell Boot Co., SKYTEC of Chattanooga, TN, Xanterra Hospitality, and all others who volunteered their time, talents and equipment in the effort to find Lou Ann and Jackson.

GCNP is expected to release information about the search effort. Please direct all search related questions to GCNP.

We ask that you please continue to pray for our families, as our loved ones are still missing, and please respect our privacy at this time.

Thank you,

The Merrell and Standefer families

No further information is available at this time.

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11 thoughts on “Missing Grand Canyon Hikers: Body Of Jackson Standefer Found

  1. So sad… they need to do something about all the deaths there. It’s awful. My parents visited from another state they have lots of state park experience they were surprised at how little fencing and signage they had. They charge an arm and a leg to get in why not fix the death issue…

  2. No doubt this is truly a sad situation for all involved. I have been to the GC on several occasions, it is an amazing experience. I have been on guided and self guided tours, the park advises you to stay on the trails, pay attention, use common sense, stay alert…anything beyond the rim you should be an experienced outdoors advocate with a guide. Unfortunately this incident ended in an unfortunate situation, this is not the parks fault, it is an accident and accidents happen. God speed to this family.

  3. Missing hikers shou · Edit

    Crossing a “creek” strong enough to sweep 2 experienced hikers away? Maybe they should have been more careful where they chose to cross. Or use ropes.

  4. I was praying that this would not be the outcome. Grandma was an excellent hiker & knew the area well. There was so much hope. My heart goes out to the family.

  5. Praying for the family and friends,hope grandmother is found soon and close by so they can have closer.bless their hearts and the people who searched for them

  6. Spring runoff can surge quickly and a safe stream can suddenly became anything but. These people were prepared and experienced, and my heart breaks for their family and loved ones. I’ve spent much of my life in the outdoors, as has my entire extended family, and one thing you learn is that no amount of experience makes you immune to chance. RIP.

  7. Very sad. I hope they find the grandma. What a good looking young man. Sounds like he had a lot of life and was a popular kid. It’s heartbreaking when a teen loses their life. Looks like he was one of the good ones who would have had a productive life. Prayers to their families.

  8. when I heard about this story about the missing hikers I was just heartbroken. I have been through he area where they dispeared from. It can be dangerious there. I am praying for the family and I hope they recover the body of the grandmother.

    god bless

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