Ron Kirk's sister took comfort Saturday in the flurry of activity around her: 200 volunteers searching every crevice, cave and rocky hideaway around Calico Basin inside Red Rock Canyon for her brother, now missing almost two weeks. Their cries echoed out from early morning, "Ron! Ron!"
"Hopefully, he knows people are looking for him," said Susan Dres, who traveled to Las Vegas from Indiana to monitor the search and rescue effort. "Just to hear that sound must be a comfort."
Las Vegas police helicopters did not go up Saturday but made several passes Friday with no luck. Today volunteers planned to resume the hunt for the 46-year-old adventurous hiker and trail runner who disappeared Jan. 16. His family said if anyone could survive so long, it's Kirk, who served in the Marine Corps.
"He's not your average guy," Dres said. "He's three or four times more than that. He's all adrenaline."
Friends and family who joined the search told stories of Kirk running for miles barefoot, suffering bashed out teeth one day and hiking the next, and always looking for the trail less traveled.
"It's not unlike him, when he sees a trail, he'll go the other way," said Leanne Candeloro, who ran with him as fellow members of the Las Vegas Hash House Harriers. "He's a survivalist and an outdoorsman. He's also very caring and loving and always hugging everybody."
As of Saturday, after five straight days of searching in a 16-square-mile area with a total of 450 volunteers , no clues had been found to suggest what might have happened after Kirk went for a trail run, said David Cummings, a volunteer leading the search effort.
Dogs were used in the search to pursue any lingering traces of the missing man.
"He may be down in something so deep that we're not going to find him," Cummings said. "It's frustrating. We've had 450 people out there and we've turned up nothing. It's disheartening."
The only links have been Kirk's red Jeep Wrangler, found by a running buddy on Jan. 23 in the parking lot at Calico Basin, and his name scrawled in a notebook on New Peak, but with no date written down. The previous entry was Dec. 30, according to Cummings.
The massive search in Red Rock didn't begin until last Tuesday, a day after a friend found Kirk's car in the Calico Basin parking lot. Las Vegas police search and rescue helicopters quickly flew around the area but found no sign of him, not even body heat that infrared devices can detect.
Kirk's sister said family and friends didn't suspect he was missing until late last week. She grew worried after he didn't return several calls and emails from her. He had texted friends Jan. 16 to say he was going hiking, but hadn't been heard from since.
"That's not like him to blow me off," Dres said. "We usually talk about every couple of days."
Near the end of last week, the family sent notes and emails to Kirk's Facebook friends; none had heard from him. Dres said she filed a formal missing person's report with police last Sunday. The next day she called the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he is studying history. He had missed his classes all week. Police have ruled out any foul play, according to Kirk's family.
His younger brother, Garnett Kirk, also flew to Las Vegas from Indiana to help in the search. Their brother, Darrell, came with his family from Seattle. The family has not given up hope, Garnett Kirk said, although he must fly home to Indiana on Monday to continue his college classes.
"I'm more the realist, although I'm trying to keep hope alive. I'm afraid my sister, Susan, is going to collapse if we don't find him."
Garnett Kirk said the family has been moved by the friends and volunteers giving their time to help find their brother. People offered money, food and drinks, he said. And companies donated services, including free shuttle service from CLS Las Vegas for hikers traveling to the search site from a nearby Albertsons, coffee from Starbucks and pizzas from The Cheesecake Factory.
"The level of humanity that people have shown for Ron is unbelievable," he said.
Many searchers were friends but many more were strangers, hikers involved in "meet up" groups, rock climbers who took risks Saturday to explore dangerous areas, and people who thought, "This could be me."
"I don't know him, but he's part of the hiking community," said Susan Nicaise, who joined one of 22 search teams. "We've got to take care of him. I would hope someone would do the same for me."
Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers @reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.