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Bad weather hinders search for pair

Published: Thursday, Sept. 18 2003 7:25 a.m. MDT

Bad weather hampered the search Wednesday for two women last seen hiking in the High Uintas four days ago.

Searchers were not able to use any airplanes or helicopters Wednesday. But Summit County sheriff's chief deputy Dave Booth said more than 30 people still used ATVs and horses to look for Kim Beverly and Carole Wetherton. Once again, however, the day ended with searchers not finding a trace of the Florida and Georgia residents.

"No, nothing at all," Booth said.

As for how much longer the search will continue, Booth said they're taking it on a day-by-day basis.

Statistics show the majority of missing hikers are found within a two-mile radius of their last known location, he said.

"We have beaten that area down hard," said Booth, who noted that searchers Wednesday concentrated on the area outside that two-mile radius.

Search crews now planned on hitting "common-sense areas," Booth said, such as ravines or low land areas, since lost hikers tend to walk downhill.

As for the possibility of foul play being involved, Booth said investigators are fairly confident that's not the case.

"We have no reason to point to that," he said. "Everything we have is exactly what we're looking for."

Booth said his department deals with missing people all the time.

"If it's not lost skiers, it's lost hunters or lost fishermen or hikers or lost Boy Scouts," he said. There has been nothing that has elevated this situation to the level of suspicious activity, he said.

A park ranger verified seeing the women Sunday. They told him they were going hiking, Booth said. Maps inside the women's vehicle found near the trailhead also indicated the women planned to go on a day hike. They were reportedly not prepared for the rain, snow and cold temperatures that rolled through the area this week.

At this point, Booth said searchers can only hope for the best but admitted the chance of finding the women alive was slim.

"There's always hope," he said, "but you can do the math."


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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