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Missing Indiana couple on Tucson road trip found; man dead, wife hospitalized, family says

The family says the couple was found Tuesday night.
The family says the couple was found Tuesday night.(Jennifer Whaley)
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 7:31 AM MST|Updated: Apr. 6, 2022 at 11:59 AM MST
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LAS VEGAS, NV (FOX5/3TV/CBS 5) - The Indiana couple who vanished in the Nevada desert while on a road trip from Albany, Oregon to Tucson more than a week ago have been found by rescue crews. The family of 72-year-old Ronnie Barker and 69-year-old Beverly Barker posted on Facebook late Tuesday night that rescue teams found the couple, but Ronnie had died. Family members say they have no details on where the couple was found or how Ronnie died. They say Beverly is doing OK and was flown to a Reno, Nevada, hospital. We reached out to Esmeralda County Sheriff’s Office to confirm and officials said they’d get back to us on Wednesday. Nye County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they were found, but didn’t go into details.

“Bless you for praying, looking, being there for us. We need you all now more than ever. We love and will forever miss you Ronnie Barker,” a family member posted on Facebook.

The couple’s RV was found early Tuesday afternoon. It was found west of Silver Peak but Ronnie and Beverly weren’t in the RV. Their white 2020 Kia Soul with Indiana plates: FL211A was also gone. Arizona’s Family reached out to the Esmeralda County Sheriff’s Office to confirm, but they said they can’t confirm anything and then hung up. According to Mineral County Undersheriff Bill Ferguson, Beverly Barker melted snow for water and the car provided shelter from temperatures that dipped into the 30s at night.

“It was just one bad decision after another,” Ferguson said. “I’m not sure what took them off course. They got the motor home stuck and then unfortunately they got the car stuck.” He also said the couple had video that indicated they were in the Silver Peak area since March 27, but he said he didn’t have information on when Ronnie Barker died or the cause of his death.

According to the Esmeralda County Sheriff’s Office, the couple never made it to the campground at Nellis AFB, where they were supposed to spend the night before hitting the road to Tucson again. “It is literally like they fell off the face of the earth. Like they just vanished,” said Jennifer Whaley, the Barker’s daughter.

The ECSO said the Barkers may have also visited the Coaldale area on the evening of March 27. Coaldale is a mining town about 40 miles west of Tonopah, Nevada, but a family member posted on social media that this account is unsubstantiated. The drive from Tonopah, Nevada, to Nellis AFB is about 3.5 hours.

“My parents were supposed to meet them in Tucson on Tuesday evening March 29. That’s when they were supposed to be pulling into the campgrounds in Tucson. They didn’t show up,” said Whaley, about her parents meeting up with their friends in Tucson who they’ve known for more than three decades.

Whaley says all contact with her parents ceased over a week ago. “All cell phone pings, everything, stopped on the 27th,” said Whaley.

Peters said the couple’s vehicle was seen passing through Luning, Nevada on Sunday evening. The Barkers were driving a white 2015 Sunseeker RV and towing the Kia. Whaley told KVVU her parents are pretty tech-savvy and travel often. She also said they’ve never gone more than a day or so without checking in. “Both parties have medical issues,” police said in a Facebook post. According to KVVU, both are diabetic and Beverly is in a wheelchair. The Nevada Highway Patrol issued a Silver Alert for the couple, even though they are not residents of the state.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the couple might have passed through Tonopah, Nevada. This story was updated Wednesday to indicate more details from Mineral County Undersheriff Bill Ferguson