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Search continues near Moab for missing couple last seen Friday

Posted at 11:25 AM, Jun 25, 2024

GRAND COUNTY, Utah — Search and rescue crews are combing through the Steel Bender Off Road Trail area for an overdue man and woman who were last seen before a serious flooding event.

In the latest update, the Grand County Sheriff's Office said search efforts would continue Wednesday after they were unsuccessful during Tuesday's efforts.

Family members identified the missing couple as 58-year-old Raymond Ankofski and 51-year-old Maranda Ankofski, both from Texas. Family detailed that the pair travels to the Moab area annually and were last heard from on Friday afternoon.


Moab police said the couple was out riding in an area where there was serious flash flooding due to a storm. Police received word that the pair hadn't checked out of their hotel room on Monday and began investigating. Family members say the couple was planning on leaving Sunday and returning to Texas on Monday.

"At first they didn't worry because we thought maybe they were just out of range and that and they didn't always stay at a hotel," said Donna Stevens, Ray's sister. "They're adventurers, they've even camped out at those places, but they had not been seen back at their hotel for a few days."

On Monday, the Grand County Sheriff's Office located an abandoned utility terrain vehicle (UTV) in the area. Donna Stevens said the vehicle is the couple's.


"They spend a great deal of the time rock crawling all of the trails with their ATV, and I believe this was the first time on that Steel Bender Trail," Stevens said.

Stevens said the couple would always text family members to check in.

Now, ground search teams, dogs, helicopters and others with specialized equipment are searching the area to try and locate the Ankofskis.

"It warmed our heart when we heard last night that a gentleman spent literally all night long till 8 o'clock this morning and took his horse and his dog and was out looking for them all night last night. He found where they left their vehicle at the trailhead," Stevens said.

While the search is underway, officials asked that the public avoid the Steel Bender Trail area. They recommend that those who want to help can provide food and drinks for teams by contacting the GCSO. Anyone with information about the couple's whereabouts is also asked to contact the sheriff's office.

"Our top priority remains the swift and safe resolution of this situation," officials said.

Stevens said she believes Ray and Maranda are prepared to be outdoors for a prolonged period. As the search and rescue team continues their efforts, Stevens and the rest of the Ankofskis' family are praying for the couple's safe return home.

"Their family is everything, and right now everyone is torn apart, pretty heartbroken, and every hour it feels like days that goes by with no word," Stevens said. "At this point, we're just keeping our fingers crossed that they find a way or somebody finds them."