GSSARDA IL News, HRD - Human Remains Detection, Wilderness

Hiker’s Remains Found in a Fox Den

February 3, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Sherri, Lektor, Shane and Belle

GSSARDA was called to participate in a search on the north shore of Lake Superior for a missing hiker. Teams from all over the United States and Canada responded. The search was organized by a Nova Scotia team and financed by the missing hiker’s family.

The hiker was a novice who tried to return to her campsite alone in the late fall. The RCMP did an extensive search, but could find no evidence of the hiker and called off the search. They were supportive and when the volunteers went in the following spring, shared all the search reports.

The cliff dropped over 50 feet into this rapids

Shane and Sherri with Lektor and Belle responded to the search. The first sector had as its boundaries a cliff dropping into rapids, the campsite road and the trans-Canada Highway. Sherri worked Lektor with Shane as support. The sector was extremely dangerous for the dog and required strong obedience to keep him from going over the cliff or getting hit by a tractor-trailer. While some bones were found, the canine didn’t alert and they turned out to be animal remains.

The second assignment was a trail hasty that had to be cut short when a newly awakened bear blocked the path.

Belle crossing the trail on the trail hasty

The next day Belle was put into service and Shane and Sherri searched the dump, again with no evidence to indicate the subject’s location. Lunch was a welcome grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. The down side was the search took place in black fly season and it was impossible to keep their little corpses out of the food. We were hungry and counted them as added protein. While waiting for the next assignment Shane tried to nap but continued to be bothered by the insects. He finally crawled into the crate with Belle and let her snack on the littler bugs while he slept.

Shane and Belle in a clearing

The next assignment was dense forest so deep the GPS did not work. Shane would move up 20 feet and shoot a back azimuth then Sherri would come forward while Belle searched. The vegetation was so dense, Shane could only see the orange star on Sherri’s hat even though she wore an orange jacket.

The last day the team was assigned to search an abandoned ore processing plant on the shore of the lake. Lektor was trained to search collapsed structure and would work at a distance with hand signals. On the second slag level he gave his trained alert. He was rewarded and Belle was sent. She confirmed human remains with her trained alert. The information was called in and the incident commander brought out his dog who gave her trained alert. The site was cordoned off and turned over to the Ontario Provincial Police. Two of their dogs confirmed human remains. All dogs were alerting to a fox den. The fox and her kits were relocated and bits of bone about the size of a pea were located.

Break time

The family had agreed to pay for the searchers gas, food and hotels. They were extremely disappointed not to have found a more complete skeleton. They decided the search needed to continue. In order to fund that continuation, the teams were not reimbursed for their expenses as promised. It is for this reason GSSARDA is attempting to build a fund to finance searches independent of the subject’s family. If they later wish to make a tax deductible donation to the team they are welcome to do so. However, we would prefer not to have searchers have to pay their own expenses on searches. If you would like to donate, please use our donation button on this page.

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