Missing airman found dead in truck

The search for a missing airman was called off Friday night after authorities found a man inside a truck, dead from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, the search commander said.

Members of the Red Rock Search and Rescue team had been looking for Tech. Sgt. Derek Langford, who went missing while four-wheeling northwest of Las Vegas. The 31-year-old, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, was reported missing Thursday by officials at Creech Air Force Base.

Relatives last heard from Langford on Tuesday night when he posted on his Facebook page that he was going four-wheeling in the Corn Creek wilderness, about 30 miles northwest of Las Vegas off U.S. Highway 95, said Dave Cummings, commander of the Red Rock Search and Rescue team.

Las Vegas police violent crime detectives had been called to investigate.

The Clark County coroner’s office had not officially identified the body late Friday.

But friends who served alongside Langford in the Air Force identified the body in the truck as his, Cummings said.

Stephen Langford, Langford’s older brother, flew in from Harrisburg, Pa., early Friday hoping to help the rescue team, but he said he was not included in the search.

He said that he last spoke to his brother a few days ago and that they had agreed to help their ailing grandmother in Louisiana by sending her money and moving her to a new town.

The Langfords were from Coushatta, La., a town of fewer than 2,000 people in the northwest corner of the state.

“We grew up in the woods,” Stephen Langford said. “Nothing like this, but Derek was very resourceful. If he went in and he hasn’t come out yet, that’s not right. He could skip 10 miles of this, no problem whatever. That’s what kind of guy he was.”

Stephen Langford said his brother, who served in the Air Force for 12 years, might have been sad after hearing that his ex-wife had remarried Monday. Derek Langford has a 5-year-old daughter in Las Vegas, the brother said.

Stephen Langford said his “adventurous” brother loved to hike and go four-wheeling. His brother recently bought a 1992 blue GMC 2500 pickup with white stripes and fixed it up for off roading.

The search for Derek Langford and his truck began Friday afternoon. Dozens of volunteers and a pair of dogs from the Red Rock Search and Rescue team set out to cover a 50-square-mile chunk of land in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

The body in the truck was found about a mile northeast of the road that leads to Corn Creek, Cummings said.

“We always want these things to end on a happy note,” he said. “But at least we’ve got some closure. We brought closure to the family.”

Contact reporter Tom Ragan at or 702-224-5512

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