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Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower, left, discusses the search effort for the Garners. "We'll keep it up as long as we can," he said.

MODENA, Iron County — In a section of Utah that could be called "the middle of nowhere," searchers continue to search for Tom and Tamitha Garner, who are believed to be missing somewhere out here in the high-country desert of rocks, snow, cedar trees and sage. It was a sixth day for searchers looking for the couple from the sky and the ground.

"There's tons of real estate out there. That's why it's taking so long," said Iron County Sheriff's deputy Quinn Averett, who is piloting a single-engine Cessna over the desert in hopes of spotting the Garners. "If they're there, we'll find them."

The Lincoln County, Nev., sheriff is scaling back his search efforts on the Nevada side of the border.

"We've covered this area five or six times now," Sheriff Kerry Lee said Friday. "We're really running out of options."

Meanwhile, police in Utah are making another push today to try to find the couple, who have been missing since last week when they gassed up their gray 1999 Dodge Dakota truck in Panaca, Nev., and drove off along state Route 56 into Utah.

Family members said the Garners were headed toward St. George, detouring to take pictures of wild horses. The Garners bought plenty of food and had a full tank of gas, giving searchers hope they could survive. They also had their dog, Medusa, with them.

The couple may have gotten stranded on one of the snow-covered dirt roads here near the Utah-Nevada border. The farther out you go, the deeper the snow gets. The roads are a combination of muddy, slick, icy and snowy.

"I went out west of Enterprise the other day and I finally turned around because it's not worth getting myself in trouble," said Iron County Sheriff's Cpl. Jobe Peterson.

The weather has hampered search efforts; snowstorms have delayed efforts to get airplanes in the sky. The air search appears to be the best hope of finding the Garners — if they are out here.

Washington County Sheriff's deputies began searching on Friday after receiving an unconfirmed report that the couple's truck was spotted on state Route 18 near Enterprise. Two helicopters were put in the air and a pair of deputies were scouting the roads.

"We've got detectives combing areas that are accessible," Washington County Sheriff's Lt. Jake Adams said. "But before we commit more resources, we need to know if they are in our area."

Beaver County Sheriff Cameron Noel also has scaled back his search efforts. Last week, the couple purchased gas in Beaver and then headed toward Ely, Nev. On Friday, he asked a deputy to patrol the Hamblin Valley for any sign of the Garners.

"It really doesn't make sense for me to be out searching," Noel said. "There's just no evidence they're in my county. The evidence points to them being south and west of where we are."

The Garners seem to have vanished into thin air.

"You wonder why all of a sudden, their phones quit working, there's no activity on their accounts," Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower said. "We're searching everywhere out here. We'll keep it up as long as we can."

Friday, Iron County Sheriff's deputies met with members of the Garner family, who wanted to go out and search on their own for the missing couple. Deputies have tried to persuade them not to, fearful that they could wind up lost in these harsh and unforgiving deserts.

"We don't want to be searching for them," Gower said.

The volunteer-based Iron County Search and Rescue is planning a push today to search more areas.

The Garner's truck is a 1999 gray Dodge Dakota with Utah license plate 793 URF. It has a scorpion sticker in the back window. Anyone with information is urged to call police.

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com