Volunteers needed for weekend search in Uinta Mountains for hiker missing since Monday

Posted at 6:39 PM, Aug 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-04 23:49:46-04

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah -- The search continued Friday for a hiker who was reported missing in the Uinta Mountains.

Melvin Heaps, 74, has been missing since Monday and his wife Margo has been asking for volunteers to assist the search in the Crystal Lake area.

Friday marked day four of the search, and so far volunteers and search and rescue crews have not found any clues. But they are not giving up hope.

“We really appreciate you coming,” one search organizer told volunteers.

A few dozen volunteers took to the trails in the area around Crystal Lake Friday. They were assisting search and rescue crews from Summit County.

“We've got our dog teams up there, people on horseback, on foot,” said Lt. Andrew Wright of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

But there's still no sign of Melvin Heaps. Now, the Garrett Bardsley Foundation has joined the search.

“This man, 74 years old, is as important as my son, who was 12,” said Kevin Bardsley, whose son Garrett went missing in the Uintas years ago.

His foundation has been assisting with volunteer search efforts this week. Garrett was never found, and Kevin says in the meantime they focus their efforts on cases like Heaps'.

"We're at peace," he said. "We're good. There'll be a day, and that's the way we've always felt about it. But right now we're going to do all we can to help others."

“We can handle as many as can come," Bardsley said. "As long as they're healthy and as long as they can walk."

The sheriff's office and the Bardsley Foundation say they appreciate every one of those 35 volunteers who came out Friday, but in order to have a successful search in the terrain here they need many, many more people to assist.

They're hoping for more volunteers as the weekend gets underway. The search will soon start to wind down for Friday night, but volunteers can check in at the Crystal Lake trail head Saturday morning.

Heaps may have had some Trek poles, black with orange accents, with him. If anyone in the area finds poles matching that description, searchers would like to know exactly where they were found.

Volunteers are asked to check in at the command post and bring ID along with proper gear, including plenty of water, for being in the mountains, as those organizing the search want to ensure no one else gets lost.

"We need hundreds if we really want to get this taken care of for the family," Bardsley said.