After two days of searching, the 33-year-old Las Vegas hiker who went missing in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area was found dead, his family said Tuesday.
Ronnie Lucas was reported missing just before 5 p.m. Sunday. His sister, Karsta Lucas, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday night what Las Vegas police told her family earlier in the evening: that a body spotted by a helicopter belonged to Ronnie.
The Metropolitan Police Department said official confirmation likely would come Wednesday from the Clark County coroner’s office.
But the family was already moving onto the next excruciating step. Karsta said her family would need to break the news to Ronnie’s 10-year-old son.
“(We’re) just devastated that we have to tell his son his daddy’s not coming home,” she said in a phone interview.
An extensive search had been carried out since Sunday night by Metro and the Red Rock Search and Rescue volunteer group. Many Las Vegas Valley residents also hit the trails on their own to help in the search — an effort, Karsta said, the family is holding onto as they begin to grieve.
If there is “anything we can take away from this, when a person in our community was in trouble, Las Vegas banded together, and they treated us as if we were family to them,” she said. “That means the world to us.”
On Tuesday night, Ronnie’s car was still in the same spot near a pull-off on the side of state Route 159. The search had focused around the Middle Oak Creek Trail area.
A man who said he was as a close friend of Ronnie, but declined to give his name out of respect for his family, described him as “a great dude and a great father” who liked climbing.
Karsta described her brother as an “amazing dad” who works as a mechanic.
“He’s raised his little boy from birth,” she said. “He loves him so much. I can’t ever imagine not bringing him home.”
Ronnie was a Type 1 diabetic. Searchers said they were not aware of the man having diabetes-related supplies with him. He had told his family a general area where he would be hiking by himself. He also was not equipped for the near-freezing temperatures overnight Sunday or the very chilly temperatures with strong wind gusts Monday night into Tuesday morning.
“It’s not the outcome we wanted, but without everybody helping, there would be no way we could bring my brother home to bury him,” Karsta said.
The family created an online fundraiser to help pay for funeral expenses.
Contact Dalton LaFerney at email@example.com or at 702-383-0288. Follow @daltonlaferney on Twitter. Contact Glenn Puit at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.