Search For Missing Hiker Called Off

Edwards, Colo. (AP) - A massive search for a hiker who has been missing for a week in the Holy Cross Wilderness, has been officially suspended Saturday after about 200 searchers failed to find the 35-year-old lakewood woman. After one of the biggest search efforts in Colorado history, the decision to officially call off the search for Michelle Vanek was made by the Eagle Co. Sheriff's Office and the Vail Mountain Rescue Group. Vanek, a mother of four, was last seen Saturday when she stopped to rest while her hiking companion continued to the peak of the 14,005-feet summit. He said she was gone when he returned. Earlier Saturday, Tim Cochrane, Vail Mountain Rescue, said Vanek, who was already tired and thirsty when she went missing, might have followed a snowfield away from the trail and toward the half moon campground where her friend had parked his car. Cochrane said the snowfield has a 60-foot drop and ledges that drop off abruptly. The area also is covered by tall pine trees, which could block the view of search and rescue helicopters. Bill Kaufman, spokesman for the Eagle County Sheriff's Office, said 14 search and rescue teams from around Colorado and 125 volunteers took part in the search Saturday. They headed out before dawn Saturday to fan out over the Mount of the Holy Cross in one of the largest searches of its kind in Colorado. Kaufman said the trained rescue teams focused on the boulder fields above tree line, which are strewn with rocks the size of cars. He said the volunteers divided into small groups of about 10 each and team leaders were given radios to keep in touch. The volunteers also searched forested areas below tree line.
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