SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah -- Search and rescue teams are looking for a 74-year-old hiker who went missing Monday night near the Crystal Lake Trail Head.
The family of Melvin Heaps told the Sheriffs Office that Melvin is an experienced hiker. He did the right thing by telling his family where he was going for a day-hike yesterday, and when they should expect him to return home.
“He told them that he would return last night, when he didn’t return, they called us, of course concerned," Lt. Andrew Wright with Summit County Sheriffs Office said. "We immediately dispatched our search and rescue teams around midnight. They were activated, we sent a deputy up to the area to try to locate his vehicle."
They did locate the vehicle and the search began around this trail head. Searchers are on foot, horseback, and are using search dogs. A search helicopter has been scouring the area since sunrise Tuesday morning, but still no sign of the missing hiker. Melvin is believed to be wearing a red long sleeve shirt, blue jeans with suspenders, and family said he typically wears a straw hat.
The Heaps family issued a statement Wednesday through the sheriff's office, thanking search and rescue crews for their efforts and for the support from friends and loved ones.
The full statement reads:
"Our family appreciates all the support we have received from the Search & Rescue units, and the concern and interest of friends and family. We continue to be hopeful because we know Mel and his love of the outdoors. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time. Thank you. The Heaps Family."
Melvin is from Arizona, here visiting family in the Salt Lake Valley, but his family says he is familiar with the area and did have some food and water with him. Summit County Sheriff’s office said the first 48 hours are critical but they do plan to continue to search for Melvin Heaps until they can find him. They also say if you do plan to be in the search area and want to help to please coordinate with them beforehand.