These are my stories as a volunteer member of the Sheriff's Search & Rescue team in Coconino County, Arizona. I'll share what it's like to go from a beginner with a lot to learn to an experienced and, hopefully, valuable member of the team, as well as the missions, trainings, and other activities along the way.
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 11, 2009
Where is Mark?
That's the question MANY people have been asking for the past ten days. It's the question that's kept me up at night, even when exhausted from another day of searching. And I know that everyone involved in the effort feels the same way. We just want to find Mark--to give this story an ending.
I've started this entry over several times now. While every mission I've been involved with--and there have been about 40 or so in my 16 months on the team--has been unique, this one was especially different for me. Not only did the facts seem to point to a fairly rapid resolution, which didn't happen, but not a single clue was located by search teams on the ground. At least, nothing that panned out. No matter how closely we looked, we didn't come up with a thing. And that feels ... well, really bad.
At the same time, I was seeing Mark's family and friends, also searching along with SAR teams from around the state of Arizona, Forest Service personnel, K-9 teams, Civil Air Patrol and the Department of Public Safety. But it wasn't the lack of a uniform that told me someone was a relative. That was clear to see in their faces, even if they gave us a smile.
Over the past ten days, five of which I was in the field in Forest Lakes, I wanted so much to hear that familiar tone of voice that comes over the radio when a searcher finds something. You can hear it when a SAR member calls Incident Command, and the rest of us stop in our tracks to listen to what will come next. Sadly, that didn't happen this time.
But no ending (yet) doesn't mean there's an end to hope. If you'd read as many Search & Rescue stories as I have in the past year and a half, you know that just about anything can happen. So I'll be keeping Mark Irby and his family in my thoughts and waiting for the day we hear he's been found.
Here's a very good news video about the search: Click here
Sadly, one of the first large scale searches I was involved with in SAR was a similar multi-day search that ended without a firm resolution. For me, the question that is imprinted in MY mind is "Where is Wilbert?"
So does this mean the search is suspended and/or demobilized?
I don't know how many unresolved searches you have been to but don't let them get to you, most of them resolve with time, some times it is a lot of time. and in my fifteen years in SAR there is only one mission that ended in "where is David"
What on earth has happened with this story? I've been unable to find any sort of update, was he ever found?
I wish I knew ... but I don't. As a volunteer, I'm not privy to certain things, so I just have to read the news myself much of the time. And as a volunteer, I'm not supposed to speculate, either. Matter of fact, my prolific fingers have already yacked too much for some folks' liking, though my intentions were good (and innocent). I too hope to hear something more. But all I'm allowed to do, I guess, is post a link to a news story already out there. :(
Mark's sister and my sister are best friends. Sadly, Mark is still missing.
Sadly there is no updating news on my uncle. He is still missing with no leads or clues. If anyone reading this has ANY information no matter how small please give it to the police. We just want to bring him home.
Arizona Republic article - 03/17/2009 -
Authorities find ATV of missing planning commissioner.
More than two months after city planning commissioner Mark Irby, disappeared in Forest Lakes, two men on a hunting trip found his red ATV off a forest service road.
Coconino County Sheriff's spokesman Gerry Blair said the ATV was discovered Saturday about 12 miles from Irby's Forest Lakes vacation home.
The area had not been included in searches launched after the commissioner's Jan. 2 disappearance, Blair said. Irby, a 51-year-old architect, was not dressed for frigid weather that day, deputies said.
On Sunday deputies and volunteers began a new search around where the ATV was found.
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