Overdue Hikers Located Near Bear Canyon Lake

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Two overdue hikers in the Bear Canyon Lake area were found in their car after waist-deep snow prevented them from driving or hiking out of the area Wednesday.

Kira Runtzel, 21, and John Mizell, 26, both of Tucson, were located in their 1980 Volvo station wagon northwest of Bear Canyon Lake at 12:45 a.m. Dec. 17.

Both were reported to be in good health and did not require any medical attention. The two were taken out of the area by Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue personnel and driven to Payson.

According to Mizell, he and Runtzel hiked to their vehicle on Monday evening. Due to the heavy snowfall, they were unable to drive out or hike out. Their intention was to wait out the storm and either hope to be rescued or hike out.

On Thursday, Dec. 11, U.S. Forest Service personnel made contact with the two hikers at a trailhead located northwest of Bear Canyon Lake. It was at this time that Mizell and Runtzel expressed their intent to hike to Promontory Butte and return home on Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon with news of the impending storm, a Coconino County Sheriff’s Deputy and U.S. Forest Service personnel returned to Bear Canyon Lake to discover the hikers’ vehicle was still in its parking spot and unattended.

On Tuesday, Forest Service personnel made contact with Mizell’s roommate and learned that the two had not returned home.

The coordinator of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit was contacted Tuesday afternoon.

Due to the remote area and the extremely heavy snowfall, Bear Canyon Lake could not be accessed by conventional vehicles. Search and Rescue personnel drove into the area in a snow cat and reached the vehicle at 12:45 Wednesday morning.

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