A 74-year-old Mesa man has been missing for five days in northern Utah.
Saturday, more than 150 volunteers joined the search to find him, according to the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.
The family of Melvin Heaps reported him missing Monday night after he failed to return from hiking near the Crystal Lake area of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, according to officials. Heaps is believed to be wearing a red long-sleeved shirt, blue jeans with suspenders, and perhaps a straw hat.
Summit County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Andrew Wright told The Arizona Republic that Heaps and his wife live in Mesa and were in Utah visiting at least one of their children.
“They came up here for their normal vacation,” Wright said. “From what we understand, when they’re up here, Melvin likes to go and explore the mountains in the Uintas in Summit County. He set out for a day hike last Monday and unfortunately hasn’t been seen since.”
Wright said Heaps wears a hearing aid in one ear and is completely deaf in the other. Heaps’ wife fears that her husband’s hearing aid battery would have died by this point, making Heaps unable to hear even the helicopters overhead, Wright said.
“She thinks that he most likely got injured, twisted an ankle, that he’s unable to walk out,” Wright said.
Heaps was known to take relatively short hikes, no more than two miles in and two miles out. But Wright said the search operation is complicated by the dense forest area, high mountain terrain and dozens of different trails Heaps could have followed.
Wright said the search-and-rescue effort includes helicopters, searchers on foot and horseback, dog teams, and assistance from a neighboring county, as well as the state’s Department of Public Safety.
One of the most concerted efforts came from the Garrett Bardsley Foundation, a non-profit that rounds up volunteers to search for missing persons.
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