Tonto Search and Rescue team members prepare to take their search vehicles off road near Road 29, five miles from Tonot Village. Pictured are John Logan, Claudi Bullard, and Bill Pitterle, Group Leader for the Tonto search and Rescue Team.
Photo by Andy Towle.
Update: MISSING MAN LOCATED IN THE PHOENIX AREA
Mark Alexander showed up at his sister’s residence in the Phoenix area today at 1:25 p.m., the Gila County Sheriff's Office reports.
Alexander’s sister, Ava, called police reporting that Alexander was trying to ride his quad to Phoenix when he had mechanical problems.
Alexander called the Sheriff’s Office and explained that he was heading to Phoenix to look for work and did not realize that the search was going on. Alexander said his quad broke down around the Verde River area near Ft. McDowell and he was pushing it toward his mother’s residence when a passerby picked him and the quad up.
Dispatch relayed the information to Search and Rescue Coordinator Rod Cronk who was running search operations near Meads Ranch. All search and rescue volunteers were called back.
Sheriff John Armer and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Sheriff’s Office Mounted Posse, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (Ranger Helicopter) for their assistance in the search for Alexander.
Update: At 10 a.m. Thursday, Tonto Rim Search and Rescue crews were getting ready to search the area north of the Control Road with new information from family that this is a popular area for Alexander to ride. On Wednesday, deputies got reports that Alexander was spotted outside the courthouse in Payson around 11 a.m. on Friday. Since then, Alexander has not been seen. A DPS helicopter searched the forest around Star Valley for most of Wednesday, but was called off when the winds kicked up.
Gila County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Posse member Larry Woolsey fell to his death Tuesday night during a search for a man missing since Friday.
Woolsey, 77, was working with two other mounted posse members when the accident occurred about 7 p.m. within the town limits of Star Valley.
“Today is a really bad day,” said mounted posse Commander Earl Chitwood. “He lost his life searching for somebody else who was lost. Larry was a great guy.”
Woolsey was leading his horse across an old dam when he lost his footing and fell approximately 20 feet to the rocks below, said Lt. Tim Scott with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.
Members of the posse rushed to Woolsey’s side until Hellsgate Fire arrived on scene.
Due to the remote location of the accident in the Tonto National Forest, medical personnel had to hike or ride in on ATVs.
Woolsey was pronounced deceased at 7:45 p.m. on scene.
“Gila County Sheriff John Armer expresses his condolences to the family and friends of Woolsey. Woolsey was a friend to many and an irreplaceable asset to the mounted posse. He will be missed by all,” Scott said.
Searchers continue to look for Mark Alexander, 56, who left his home in the Bear Flats subdivision on a green ATV sometime around 10 a.m. on April 1.
A neighbor of Alexander’s notified the sheriff’s office Tuesday around 2 p.m. that he had not heard from Alexander since he left.
“It did not appear that Alexander had prepared for an extended trip, and no specific destination is known,” Scott said. “Alexander has been known to ride Forest Service roads and trails around Bear Flats, and between there and Payson.”
A Department of Public Safety helicopter from Tucson will join the search for Alexander Wednesday, said Tonto Rim Search and Rescue Commander Bill Pitterle.
“It is a vast area we are trying to cover,” he said. “There are a huge number of quad roads out there and we blanketed a lot of them last night and will do more today.”
The area around Star Valley is a popular area for quad riders and searchers have found tons of fresh quad tracks, but none so far have led to Alexander.