About Coconino County

About Coconino County

Encompassing 18,661 square miles, Coconino County, Arizona, is the second largest county in the U.S. but one of the least populated. Our county includes Grand Canyon National Park, the Navajo, Havasupai, Hualapai and Hopi Indian Reservations, and the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. Elevations range from 2,000 feet above sea level along the Colorado River to 12,633 feet at the summit of Mt. Humphreys in Flagstaff.

January 4, 2009

48 Hours and Counting

This is an ongoing mission, from which I just returned after 25 hours in the field. I arrived on Saturday, January 3rd, as several of my teammates were finishing up their own 20-plus-hour shifts, still with a long drive ahead of them back to Flagstaff. I'll fill you in on more of the story once the mission is concluded--hopefully with a find--but, in the meantime, this is who we're looking for, re-printed from the Coconino County Sheriff's Office press release:

Missing Person


"Mark Russell Irby is described as a white man, 51 years of age, 5/10, 175 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, and wearing prescription glasses. He was last seen wearing a denim shirt, blue jeans and "Croc" style shoes, and riding a red Bombardier ATV with AZ license plate 36B-175. Irby is on medication for high blood pressure. There are no other known medical conditions. Irby was not dressed for the extreme weather or an extended trip away from home.

Mr. Irby had been known to travel out of the Forest Lakes Subdivision to the west and travel trails between the subdivision and Forest Service Rd. 237. He was last seen when he left the home in the Forest Lakes area at about 10:00 AM Friday, January, 2nd.

Anyone with information regarding the welfare or whereabouts of Mark Russell Irby is urged to call the Coconino County Sheriff's Office at (928)774-4523 or (800)338-7888."


When I left incident command today--Sunday, January 4th--just after 10am, there were at least 30 volunteers from three county SAR teams in the field, and another call-out has since been made for more volunteers to relieve them in the morning, to continue the search if Mr. Irby hasn't been located. I'll be re-joining the mission at 6am on Monday.

Also, a DPS helicopter has been flying, searching areas around the Forest Lakes subdivision.

It's now snowing heavily, complicating matters, because any ATV tracks that may have been visible on Saturday are now much more difficult to detect. This is becoming a very frustrating mission, as search teams have checked and re-checked all logical areas and then some without locating any clues, which is unusual.

Today (Sunday), teams are literally going door to door in the subdivision, walking around each and every house, many of which are seasonal residences. The searchers will be checking snow and ice slides that have come off the roofs, some of which are large enough to potentially bury both a man and his quad. That is, if the quad could even have made it up to the houses. It would have been nearly impossible for the ATV to have crossed the huge berms along the sides of the roads and made it through deep snow on the unplowed driveways of unoccupied homes without becoming stuck in the attempt. But there's been no sign of the red quad or the man who was driving it.

Let's hope this turns out well ... somehow.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your posting and your dedication to this effort. We are extended family and watching carefully for news.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update and your dedication. We are extended family and are watching carefully for news.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for the update and your dedication. We are friends of the family and are watching carefully for news.

Francie said...

Thank you so much for your updates. It is important to those of us in Mark's extended family who are anxious for any news.

JANN MCKENZIE said...

We are friends of Mark & Lynn and appreciate this bit of news.

Deb said...

As of Sunday night at 9pm, Mark Irby had not been located following the door-to-door search. I called our team captain for any information and was told that no clues had been found, so the new shift of SAR personnel is on for Monday morning.

Sally said...

Dear Lynn, Tiffany and Kim,

Our thoughts and prayers are with you....

Sally, Steve, Amy and Jennifer

Mike said...

Thank you for your dedication and information. We are friends of the family and this is the most information I have been able to find. For those of us who feel helpless is there anything we can do to help?
Mike

raforart@aol.com said...

Hi Debbie,
Any news, anything about Mark--He is such a wonderful man, please let us know any leads, any rays of hope?

friends in Ahwatukee

Alisa Wessel said...

Lynn,
our thoughts and prayers are with you and your girls....
I have so many praying for Mark that he will return safe.

Alisa

Julie said...

I would like to Thank You on behalf of Mark's family in Michigan and Indiana. It warms our hearts that people like you do this task for us. We can't be there to help search for our cousin. We also appreciate your blog updates. Thanks again and God Bless You

luvaz said...

Colleagues of Mark at the City of Chandler are praying and thinking of him everyday. We appreciate this blog and any updates you can provide. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark's family and extended family.

Jodie

Deb said...

Tuesday, 1/6 update:

I wasn't in the field today, since I had to work, but they've just done another call-out for tomorrow for snowshoers, so obviously they still haven't found Mark. I'm assuming they used the underwater camera today, as planned, and, as expected, they ruled out the ponds. I wish I could search tomorrow but have a family commitment. I'll definitely go on Thursday if we're still needed by then.

I don't know Mark at all, but still ... I lay awake at night, going over and over the possibilities. How could he be anywhere that we've searched and re-searched so meticulously? So if he's not in the subdivision and not in the areas around the subdivision ... where could he (and his quad) be????

The Cabes said...

We have been friends with the Irbys both in the city and in Forest Lakes and this shocking tragedy sits like a heavy stone on our hearts. We are praying in every spare moment we have for Mark and his entire beautiful family. This blog has reminded me that the dedicated search party members need our prayers too. God be with you, thank you for your tireless efforts.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Wilt's office says, Lynn and family, we're sending our love and prayers...wish we could be there with you, but know that there are 100's of people that are experts there doing whatever they can to help. To Deb, thanks for this website, and your dedication

The French's said...

Deb thank you for your blog site. The news updates are very much appreciated. To yourself and all the volunteers and staff we thank you for all you have done and continue to do.

Lynn & Family ..Larry & I will keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

Deb said...

Twitter comment from another SAR volunteer in Arizona:

"Sonoran SAR, our sister team w/ canines, are up at Forest Lakes now. The whole state is on it helping out."

Great, they've got air-scenting dogs out. Cross your fingers they pick up on something! Seems that most SAR teams in Arizona are sending help.

Laura Hanson said...

Tiffany, Lynn and Kim:

I am thinking of you constantly and you are in my prayers. I love you!

CC & SC said...

Lynn & Family
Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with you.
To Deb, words cannot describe how much your updates mean to all of us. Thank God for you and the other dedicated people helping during this devasting time.

Deb said...

The most extensive write-up I've found to date is this: http://www.south-of-flagstaff-arizona.com/news-releases.html.

It's now Wednesday at 5:30pm. A call-out was made for tomorrow, and I'll be going back to Forest Lakes.

Anonymous said...

Lynn and family-although we are far away we are following the rescue efforts carefully. Please know you are in our thoughts constantly. Thanks Deb for your reporting-it helps those of us who can't be there to know how things are progressing. Janet and Bob

Jim Irby said...

Deb, I would like to express my extreme gratitude for all that you, the other volunteer searchers,and various agencies that have provided their dedication, time, and unrelenting resolve to finding my brother. Everyone involved has been phenomenal! God bless our continued searches and efforts. We will never give up on Mark.

Jennifer G. said...

I wish to thank Deb and everyone who have been searching vigorously for my Uncle. We're praying for his safe return, and appreciate everyones thoughts and prayers.

Deb said...

Hi, everybody...

Well, we spent about ten hours searching on foot today but no clues were found. We used metal detectors, going along berms on either side of the roads and digging any time the devices seemed to indicate SOMEthing was there. We also checked ice/snow slides that had come off of roofs and dug into large snow mounds around houses.

Also, some Civil Air Patrol "archers" were flown today. They can be programmed to detect a certain color--in this case, the color of Mark's Bombadier ATV. We were sent to check out some things detected by the archers but nothing panned out, including a snowshoe out to the area south-southeast of Mule Tank, I believe it was called, to the south of Rt. 260. Civil Air Patrol also had people on the ground helping with the search.

More volunteers will be there tomorrow. Sorry I don't have any other news. We're trying to be as thorough as we possibly can.

Anonymous said...

Thank you and all the other searchers for your commitment to find Mark. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Irby family and the searchers each and every day. Julie & Nick

Anonymous said...

Deb, thank you for all your time and efforts, as well as for all the efforts of the other searchers. Your updates have been helpful to us in Seattle who cannot be there in person. Lynn and Tiffany and Kim, our prayers and hearts go out to you. Jim, thank you for never giving up on Mark! Dan Irby

Dave and Kathy Olney said...

Deb,
Thank you for keeping all of us updated on the search for Mark. And thank you and all of the other volunteers for continuing the search. We hope and pray that you find him, soon.
Dave & Kathy Olney

Deb said...

I'll be going back to join the search tomorrow--Saturday. I don't know what was done today, because I haven't heard from teammates yet. In any case, we're not giving up! Our coordinator and others in charge seem downright determined to find Mark, and the volunteers are too. When we carry out our assignments, we're doing so to the best of our abilities. Actually, some homeowners are going to return in the spring or summer to find their piles of sawdust and other odds-n-ends a bit torn apart, since, to US, they were unidentified snow mounds that had to be checked. We've also been picking up things we find along the plowed subdivision roads--like a small green apple and a red bungie cord--to see if perhaps they were something Mark would have carried. The search area is also being widened more and more, so it's not just the Forest Lakes subdivision we're going over with a fine-toothed comb. Hope to have something more substantial to share by tomorrow night.

Anonymous said...

I'm a resident of Northern Arizona, and want the Irby family to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you all. Thanks, also, to Deb for the updates, I know they must be greatly appreciated by Mark's family. What a frightening situation for all, but wonderful that there are so many willing to help find him. You are all in the thoughts and prayers of many.

Anonymous said...

I am Mark's Godmother, Aunt Fran, his uncle and I flew in from tues. to thurs. to be with the family. We are eternally grateful for the
huge volume of volunteers and sincere people who have come forward, in our time of need. We can not thank you enough.
Fran Imonen

Martha Bell said...

Deb,

Thanks you for your blog and updates. People all over the country are praying for the Irby family.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been involved in the search efforts along with the Forest Lakes Fire Department for Mark. We came to know Mark and Lynn in a CERT Community Emergency Response Class here in Forest Lakes. I speak on behalf of many people in our small community up here, our hearts are broken. To Lynn, the girls, Mark's parents, Mark's brother and sister as well as the rest of the family, we will continue to pray each day for God to bring you peace in this situation.
Love, Bob & Veronica

anonymous said...

I just wanted to sadly update this blog real quick. My brother's body was found on Saturday 6/6/09. I wanted to also take a moment to thank the search and rescue teams and everyone who has helped and kept our family in their prayers. It was comforting to know that so many people were helping and praying for his safe return. Thank you everyone.