MOOSE, WY (ABC4) – A woman has been banned from Grand Teton National Park after she gave false information about a missing hiker, resulting in hundreds of hours of wasted search efforts.
Heather Mycoskie, 40, previously of Jackson, WY, knowingly provided false information and a false report in the search for missing hiker Cian McLaughlin.
Mycoskie is banned from the park for five years and has to pay restitution of $17,600 to the Department of Treasury, the National Park Service said.
Officials say Mycoskie reported that she had seen McLaughlin in the late afternoon of June 8, 2021 — the day he disappeared.
Mycoskie told investigators the missing man was hiking on the south side of the Bradley-Taggart moraine in Grand Teton National Park, and he was headed south towards Taggart Lake where he planned to jump off his favorite rock into the water.
The hiker also provided a “very detailed description” of McLaughlin and said she had a discussion with him in which he shared where he lived, where he was from, and where he works.
Further investigation revealed that Mycoskie never saw anyone matching McLaughlin’s description on June 8.
Additionally, witnesses reported Mycoskie fabricated the sighting to ensure search efforts continued. All other potential sightings of McLaughlin were on the trail system that leads towards Garnet Canyon, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes, and Delta Lake.
In September 2021, computer forensics revealed that McLaughlin had conducted several internet searches focused on Delta Lake just prior to his hike.
As a result of Mycoskie’s false report, nearly 532 hours were spent doing searches, managing search efforts, and conducting investigations.
The NPS said this wasted time could have been focused on searching areas of higher probability and it cost the federal government $17,600.
June 8 marks one year since McLaughlin went missing. The NPS says the search effort for the missing hiker will continue during the summer of 2022.
Backcountry users in Grand Teton National Park are encouraged to contact the Tip Line (888-653-0009) if they locate any of the items that McLaughlin was suspected to have had with him at the time of his disappearance which include a red Apple watch, a red iPhone 12 mini, gold wire-rimmed sunglasses, a silver U shaped pendant, and a white t-shirt.