TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the recovery search for a missing elderly hiker in Madera Canyon has now been suspended.
Multiple agencies have been searching for 83-year-old Joe Smallwood since he called 911 on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 5 to say he was lost.
“He lost his sense of direction at one point and family members are claiming he is an experienced hiker," said Sgt. Omar Rodriguez, spokesman for the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department. “We don’t know if he’s on an actual trail or off the trails.”
The rescue operation began immediately after Smallwood’s call, but as of Thursday afternoon, he still had not been found.
“They haven’t been able to find any sign of (him) and no way of communicating with him via cellphone,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the rescue teams had split up and were assisted by dogs.
Authorities were using items found in Smallwood’s vehicle to give the canines something to track.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office was leading the rescue operation with the help of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Forest Service, Southern Arizona Rescue Association and Green Valley Fire.
Santa Cruz Sheriff Tony Estrada said Smallwood’s vehicle was found in the parking lot. The vehicle has an Ohio license plate, but Smallwood has Tucson ties.