Search for Utah woman and step-grandson missing in Grand Canyon to be scaled back

Posted at 9:15 AM, Apr 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-20 11:16:28-04

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz — The families of a Utah woman and her step-grandson who disappeared in Grand Canyon National Park issued a statement saying they support the park’s decision to scale back the search.

Lou Ann Merrell, 62, of Vernal, and Jackson Standefer, 14, of Chattanooga, Tenn. were swept away Saturday in the canyon’s Tapeats Creek.

According to Chief Park Ranger Matt Vandzura, Merrell and Standefer were with a group of four crossing the creek when they got swept into the current from the spring runoff.

Crews started looking for Merrell and Standefer by air and rescue boat Sunday morning. The park service has also been using drones to search for the pair in areas that are hard to reach on foot.

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

FOX 13 will continue to bring you updates as this story develops. Watch FOX 13 News and for the latest.