Missing snowmobiler identified, search called off for Sunday night

Posted at 1:32 PM, Dec 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-28 23:36:39-05

CACHE COUNTY, Utah -- Search and rescue efforts for an overdue snowmobiler in the Franklin Basin area of Logan Canyon have been called off for the night due to snowfall and the darkness, and authorities have identified the missing man and said they will resume the search Monday morning.

Lt. Doyle Peck of the Cache County Sheriff's Office said two men, ages 27 and 48, were snowmobiling in the area Saturday when the pair got separated, and one of the men did not make it back.

Officials later identified the missing man as 48-year-old Lawrence Orduno of Arizona and his companion as 27-year-old Courtney Wood, who is from the Logan area.

According to a press release from Cache County Sheriff's Office, the pair became separated around 10 p.m. Saturday after Wood became stuck in deep snow. Wood is familiar with the area but Orduno is not, the release stated. Wood was able to get out of the area and search for Orduno but did not find him.

Lt. Mike Peterson, Cache County Sheriff's Office, said the 27-year-old man eventually made it back to their truck in the parking area, where he waited for his friend for several hours. The man did not have the keys to the truck, and he eventually walked from the parking area down to the canyon road, where he flagged down a motorist and had them call 911. That call was made early Sunday morning.

By around 5 a.m. Sunday, search and rescue crews had been activated to begin searching the area. Crews from Box Elder, Rich and Cache counties in Utah and Franklin County, Idaho are working to find the man. The press release stated that, "search efforts have been ongoing but were hampered due to the heavy snowfall that occurred during the night and morning hours of December 28th."

Crews were beginning to be recalled from the area around 7 p.m. Sunday due to the falling snow and darkness. Park and Recreation staff members plan to groom trails in the area overnight to help rescuer efforts, which are scheduled to resume around 7 a.m. Monday morning with volunteers from multiple agencies.

Peck said the pair had not planned to be out overnight so the man does not have extra supplies or gear for staying overnight.

The Franklin Basin area is popular with snowmobilers and is at about 7,500 feet in elevation.