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.

Disclosure: Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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 3, 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, reprinted 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 4, just after 10 a.m., 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 rejoining the mission at 6 a.m. 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 rechecked 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 them are seasonal homes. Searchers will also 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 getting 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.