The wife of a famed footwear maker and her grandson are still missing after they lost their footing while hiking with family in the Grand Canyon last Saturday. On Friday, after nearly a week of search efforts, the Grand Canyon National Park scaled back the search efforts.
Lou Ann Merrell, 64, and her step grandson, Jackson Standefer, 14, were hiking with family members, including boot maker Randy Merrell, when they slipped at the bottom area of the Grand Canyon, near the North Rim. Both Lou Ann and Jackson were swept away by the current.
Both the Merrell Shoe Company and the Standefer family have funded additional rescue workers to assist volunteers in finding Lou Ann and Jackson. The Arizona Department of Public Safety and the National Park Service have also been helping in the search efforts. The Standefer family sent in a Sky Ranger military-grade drone for assistance, but so far, there’s been no sign of the missing pair.
According to a statement released by a family member this morning, they honored the decision to scale back the search efforts due to knowledge of the area.
“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 decision to scale back the search.”
Matt Vandzura, Chief Ranger of the Grand Canyon National Park, stated that the search will still continue, but on a more limited level. Vandzura said that it will become a “limited continuous mode of searching, which includes a public education outreach campaign asking hikers and tour groups for leads, and having park rangers continue to keep their eyes open during their shifts.”
Students at Jackson’s middle school have been showing an outpouring of support for the missing boy. He’s said to be well-liked and popular at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The families continue to “pray for a miracle,” and extended their thanks to everyone whose helped.
[Feature Photo: Family Handout]