Still no success in dunes search

SAND DUNES — In spite of aerial and on-the-ground searches, including canine teams, an unaccounted-for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve visitor was still missing on Friday.

“We will continue monitoring weather patterns and high elevation areas that we are concentrating on,” Public Information Officer Katherine Faz said on Friday.

She said incident command would make decisions regarding the search based on the safety of the search teams and resources available.

So far aerial support has been in play including airplanes with infrared and high-resolution systems. Search teams are also continuing to look for the missing visitor on the ground, Faz said.

She added that three counties outside the San Luis Valley had come to support the search effort.

Faz said the identity of the missing visitor is still not being released. She confirmed, however, that it is a single individual who is missing.

The search began nearly a week ago on Sunday, May 14, after park staff noticed a vehicle had been parked for several days in the Sand Pit picnic area parking lot. The visitor had been unaccounted for since the previous Monday, May 8th and had not left an itinerary or travel plan with family. The visitor also had not received a backcountry permit and overnight parking pass at the park visitor center to help establish travel route and planned return date.

Bad weather this week scaled back search efforts, as snow and high winds endangered the search teams’ safety. More snow could fall over the weekend.

“We are hoping for the best,” Faz said.