Although Grand Teton National Park officials have curtailed the search for missing hiker Cian McLaughlin, efforts continue to bring some sort of resolution to the 27-year-old’s family and friends.
“We don’t stop looking until we locate it,” said Erika Jostad, acting chief ranger for Teton Park. As of Friday, 10 days after McLaughlin’s last sight, staff members have been operating in “limited continuous mode,” with fewer people actively searching but everyone on the lookout.
“Anyone who has business in the backcountry – scientific research, track crew – we would also expect them to research while they’re in the field,” Jostad said.
In its heyday, the search for McLaughlin, a valley resident and Dublin native, was massive. Up to 70 park staff each day and several dog teams searched the park’s trails, canyons and woods for six consecutive days.
Since McLaughlin went missing – four days after he went missing on June 8 – the park’s investigative team have spoken to more than 140 people with advice and information. Over 45 helicopter search missions have been conducted, some using RECCO rescue technology and thermal imaging cameras. No researcher was injured in the massive operation, Jostad said, as he navigated steep, technical terrain, some of which required rope, ice axes and crampons.
The decision to scale back the park’s efforts was not an easy one, Jostad said, but officials must balance the risk to researchers and the monopolization of resources with the chances of finding the missing hiker and being able to help him 10 days. after his disappearance.
Jostad didn’t lend credibility to the types of online sleuths who theorize that McLaughlin is somewhere other than Grand Teton or that he intended to harm himself.
“Mental health was not a hallmark of the profile that we developed to try to figure out where it might be,” Jostad said.
Investigators have found the predictable: McLaughlin loves hiking and loves Grand Teton. He didn’t seem to intend to spend the night outside because of the limited equipment he was carrying.
“It felt like an afternoon just a walk in the park,” Jostad said. “We try to keep a very open mind about where he could have gone, so we are looking in all places we can.”
Updated flyers with McLaughlin’s photo and description are posted throughout the park. The last credible sighting by a man matching McLaughlin’s description was around 3:45 p.m. on June 8 near the Surprise Lake junction towards Garnet Canyon. McLaughlin wears his hair roughly shoulder length and was seen on the trail wearing round glasses, a white shirt and shorts.
Anyone who may have met McLaughlin is urged to call a whistleblower line.
“We really appreciate hearing from people,” Jostad said, “if they saw anything wrong.”
The tip line can be called or texted at 888-653-0009; Tips can also be emailed to [email protected] or submitted online by going to NPS.gov/ISB, then clicking “Send Tip.”