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Front Page » December 2, 2008 » Emery County News » Missing hiker in Little Wild Horse
Published 3,005 days ago

Missing hiker in Little Wild Horse

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The Emery County Sheriff's Office has been involved in a search for a missing Colorado woman. Grand County Sheriff enlisted the help of Emery County officials when it became apparent the missing woman wasn't in Grand or San Juan counties.

A call came into Grand County on Nov. 17 when the missing woman, 54 year old Rose Backhaus did not appear for work on Nov. 17.

The last known record of Backhaus was when she checked out of the LaQuinta Inn in Moab on Nov. 16.

Emery County officials located her car at the Little Wild Horse trailhead on Nov. 24 by 4 p.m. Grand County had spent the previous week searching in Grand and San Juan counties because family members believed Backhaus to be in those counties hiking.

Emery County Sheriff's Office deputies and Emery County Search and Rescue posse combed the area on Nov. 24-Dec. 1 and they have still not located the missing woman. Eighteen search and rescue posse members along with the Utah Highway Patrol helicopter have been combing the area.

She is from New Castle, Colo. Cell phone records show that Backhaus checked her cell phone messages on Sunday and that is the last known contact with Backhaus. Cell phone records are being checked to see if there was any contact past Nov. 16.

Backhaus was due to return to work on Nov. 17.

The search has continued throughout the Thanksgiving holiday and the Emery County Sheriff's Office with the assistance of the state parks, adult probation and parole, and the Emery County Sheriff's Posse search and Rescue, Department of Public Safety helicopter with pilot Terry Mercer and the Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue dogs have searched the area by air and by ground, ATVs have also combed the area.

The search has spanned from Goblin Valley, through the San Rafael Reef and to the Muddy River with no results or additional clues to the whereabouts of Backhaus. Backhaus is described as 5'2", 135-150 pounds, wears glasses and was wearing hiking pants and a lime green fleece jacket at the time of her disappearance.

She arrived at the Little Wild Horse trail head around 10 a.m. and her vehicle has been there ever since. It is a 2004 maroon Ford Explorer with a bike rack on the back. The Emery County Sheriff's Office is requesting that anyone who was in the area from the morning of Nov. 16-24 and has any knowledge to the location of Backhaus should contact the sheriff's office at 435-381-2404.

Emery County Sheriff LaMar Guymon said, "We have searched by ground, air, 4-wheelers and on foot every slot canyon and have moved west of the Reef and are in the process of working towards Mackay Flat on foot. The area has been searched thoroughly by air. We have had approximately 20 search and rescue personnel and deputies in the area each day since the call came in that Backhaus was missing. At this point we are looking at every possiblity and pursuing every lead. There is an eye witness that saw Backhaus enter the canyon that Sunday morning. From that point on no one has seen her. We are scaling back our efforts, but will continue to search as we are able to find manpower. Liablility issues have become a problem and we can only be responsible for our trained search and rescue workers. Volunteers can search in the area on their own, but they do not answer to us and are not our responsiblity. When the search first started we searched all the pot holes in Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyon. Since that time it has rained and filled the pot holes and we have had our rappeling crew search all the pot holes again. The upper end of Little Wild Horse is not well marked and beyond that you can become easily confused you could go south or northeast and you could end up on Mackay Flat or Hidden Splendor, or if you go the other way, eventually you'll run into the freeway. We are just working to eliminate areas one step at a time. Scent dogs are just good within a few hours of a disappearance. But, the tracking dogs will find any person in the area, either alive or deceased. These dogs are trained to find people. We will continue to do what we can to find Backhaus," said Sheriff Guymon.

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December 2, 2008
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