With no solid leads at the end day seven in the search for missing mountaineer Ric DeVan, Inyo County Sheriff Bill Lutze called off the search effort, but then a family member or friend found DeVan’s backpack. That discovery led to the grim finding of DeVan’s body nearby.
According to a website posting by DeVan’s father on the Whitney Portal Store Forum, the Inyo Search and Rescue Team that returned to the mountains this morning found DeVan’s body several hundred feet up the mountain from the backpack. Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze later confirmed the discovery. He said the body was turned over to the Inyo County Coroner.
Spokesmen said that the backpack was found close to Mt. Goode and that discovery prompted Inyo Search and Rescue crews to go back up into the mountains for one more look. The 44 year old San Diego man had been missing in the Bishop Pass area since July Fourth. Sheriff Lutze said the body was flown down to Bishop Airport Wednesday afternoon.
The missing climber was last seen on July third in the Bishop Pass area. DeVan set out on an overnight trip from Bishop Pass toward Mt. Goode on the third of July. He was supposed to meet his wife and daughter at Treasure Lakes on the Fourth but did not arrive.
The last sure sign of DeVan’s passage was his signature in the summit register on the 13,000 foot peak of Mt. Goode. In that summit register, Devan indicated that he would next traverse to neighboring Mt. Johnson. There is a difficult ridge between Mt. Goode and Mt. Johnson. Local search teams who traversed the ridge toward Mt. Johnson describe the terrain as treacherous and extremely unstable.
Over the weekend family and friends backpacked or hiked into the mountains to keep the search going. One group took digital photos of the Mt. Goode area in hopes of finding evidence in the photos. Another volunteer group with an unmanned aerial vehicle was reported to be in the area to fly over and take digital photos of the terrain in hopes of finding something the ground searchers missed over the seven days of searching. Reports indicate they did find DeVan’s backpack.
Inyo Sheriff Bill Lutze said that this search has been the most exhaustive.