ST. GEORGE – The body of a 19-year-old hiker reported missing was found by searchers Monday.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Monday evening that the body of Benjamin Needham was found 40 feet down a ravine on Pine Valley Mountain. He was unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of death is currently under investigation.
The Sheriff’s Office was made aware that Needham was missing Monday after his family reported him overdue. They had planned to meet up at the Browns Trail Sunday afternoon, but he never arrived.
Prior to this, Needham was last seen by his family on Thursday, according to the statement from the Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities reported that a Forest Service employee had been in contact with Needham on Friday, after assisting him in finding his campsite approximately 2.5 to 3 miles up the Whipple trail.
“Needham was reported to be hiking the area alone, but prepared with supplies,” the Sheriff’s Office said in the press release. “He was reported to have food sufficient for 3-4 days and means to purify water. When Benjamin failed to meet with family members as planned, they contacted the Sheriff’s Office.”
A search party consisting of Sheriff’s deputies, Washington County Search and Rescue and U.S. Forest Service rangers was organized and sent out to find Needham. Search and Rescue personnel searched by foot while rangers went on horseback.
The St. George Communications Center attempted to zero in on Needham’s location by tracking his phone. It only gave the general area he was in and there were indications the phone had been shut off.
Needham’s body was found around 5:15 p.m.
The body was retrieved with the aid of a helicopter contracted with the Color Country Interagency Fire Center that already had resources in the area fighting the nearby Main Canyon Fire.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.