Search scaled back for Tennessee AT hiker missing in Franklin County

Posted Aug. 11, 2013, at 11:49 a.m.
Geraldine Largay
Courtesy of the Maine Warden Service
Geraldine Largay

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — The search for Geraldine Largay, 66, of Brentwood, Tenn., has been scaled back significantly, according to the Maine Warden Service.

Warden investigators will continue to chase down leads and gather information, including more cellphone data. Some of that data takes time to get, said Doug Rafferty, a Warden Service spokesman.

Largay sent at least one text message in the hours before she disappeared while solo hiking on the Appalachian Trail in July. GPS data from her phone allowed searchers to home in on the search area, but the data were imprecise at best and searchers couldn’t pin down a precise location of the phone.

Lt. Kevin Adam, the inland search coordinator for the Warden Service, told reporters last week, “It’s not like you see on TV; it’s just not that simple.”

Wardens and volunteer search teams covered more than 30 miles of the AT from Route 4 in Rangeley to Route 27 in Wyman Township, said Warden Josh Bubier, who worked on mapping and other logistics for the search. More than 120 people were involved in searching an area of more than 82 square miles. That area was eventually honed down to 4.2 square miles of steep, rugged terrain in the Lone Mountain area.

Nine dog teams with their handlers each searched 8-9 miles during a grid search on Sunday, Aug. 4, Bubier said.

Searchers also traversed more than 70 miles of other linear terrain features including drainage ditches, stream beds, snowmobile and ATV trails and woods roads. A Warden Service airplane and Forest Service helicopter were also employed during the search, as weather permitted. At least two horses were used during the ground search for Largay.

Rafferty said that while the investigation and interviews seeking more information about Largay continue, the search on the ground is now substantially limited.

“We are moving more into the investigative piece of this puzzle, for one,” Rafferty said. “We are scaling back in terms of the searchers and who we use up there and are trying to fill in some of the holes we have left.”

He said searchers were confident of the results of the grid searches they’ve conducted, but there are some remote areas they still need to rule out.

“It’s just a result of just not being able to physically get to [some areas] in the time we have allotted and so forth,” Rafferty said. “We are sort of going back with a fine-tooth comb.”

The service is urging anybody with information about Largay to contact them by calling Augusta Public Safety Dispatch at 624-7076 or in Maine by dialing 800-452-4664.

 

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