UT grandmother, grandson missing in Grand Canyon

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GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Arizona (ABC4 Utah) A Utah grandmother and her step-grandson are still missing in the Grand Canyon after a third day of searching. 

On Tuesday, crews discovered a backpack and equipment belonging to the missing hikers. 

Authorities say Lou Ann Merrell from Vernal and her step grandson, 14-year-old Jackson Standefer from Chattanooga, Tennessee, were hiking with family below the canyon’s North Rim, when they were swept down Tapeats Creek. 

Search crews scoured the remote section of the Grand Canyon National Park with boats, helicopters, and drones Tuesday. 

“This particular kind of incident is extremely rare, that two people would be washed away in a creek crossing is something that is almost unheard of in our local memory of Grand Canyon incidents,” Chief Ranger Matt Vandzura told ABC News.  

Merrell’s family said she’s an experienced hiker who knows the area well. The 62-year-old is married to the original co-founder of the popular hiking boot company that bares their last name. 

While the odds of finding them alive dwindle by the day, the family won’t give up hope. 

“They were well provisioned for a multi-day trip. Both were reported to have food and water in their backpacks. We believe they are equipped to have the knowledge to survive,” Vandzura said. 

ABC4 Utah’s attempts to reach the Merrell family today were unsuccessful.

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