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Body identified as missing Grand Canyon hiker

Updated May 1, 2017 - 6:58 pm

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. — A body found last week has been identified as that of a 14-year-old hiker who went missing nearly two weeks ago while hiking a remote part of the Grand Canyon during a family trip, authorities said Monday.

Jackson Standefer, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, was crossing a creek April 15 when he and his step-grandmother, LouAnn Merrell, lost their footing and were swept away.

The cause and manner of death for Jackson Standefer is pending, said Trish Lees, a spokeswoman for the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Merrell, the wife of Merrell Boot Co. co-founder Randy Merrell, is still missing.

Park rangers spent days searching with a helicopter, ground crews, drones and a motorized inflatable boat before the search was scaled back.

A body believed to be Standefer’s was found last Friday by a commercial river trip and transported by helicopter to the medical examiner’s office.

Standefer was an eighth-grade student at The McCallie School, an all-boys boarding institution in Chattanooga.

School officials have said the teen was active in outdoors programs, crew team and a youth Christian group.

Mark McOmie, Standefer’s uncle, declined immediate comment Monday on the identification of the body. He previously described his nephew as a well-loved boy who was always smiling.

Standefer and his step-grandmother, who is from Utah, went missing during a hike from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to an area known as Tapeats Creek.

They were on a trip with Standefer’s mother and Randy Merrell.

Tapeats Creek is in a remote area of the Grand Canyon.

Experienced hikers say the trail that the group took involves an arduous hike down the canyon that ends in stunning, unique views.

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