Multiple teams of park rangers are searching a rugged area of the Grand Canyon for 52-year-old Floyd E. Roberts III of Treasure Island.
Roberts was on the first day of a multi-day backpacking trip when he was reported missing Saturday afternoon.
“Heartbreaking, absolutely,” Tom Burnett, Roberts' neighbor for more than five years, told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska. “I have thought of little else all day today. We of course are still hoping for the best, hoping authorities are able to find him.”
Burnett said Roberts has visited the Grand Canyon before and loved being outdoors. With experience hiking, and knowledge of the area, Burnett is optimistic.
“He's a very, very intelligent man. He used to work for NASA in Huntsville, Alabama,” Burnett said. “So, we are hoping that may help him, and I would think he would have good survivor-type skills.”
Roberts is a teacher a Middleton High School here in the Bay Area. He teaches Business Tech and web design, and has been with the district since August 2014, per a Hillsborough School District official.
The National Park Service said a member of Roberts’ hiking group reported him missing near Kelly Tanks in the extreme western portion of Grand Canyon National Park on Saturday afternoon around 3 p.m.
The area has been under extreme heat advisories since last week with temperatures soaring near the 120 degree mark in some areas. The heat advisory is in effect until Wednesday afternoon.
With the extreme heat and rugged terrain, teams are searching as much of the area as they can, but it is slow going. Just reaching the search area takes several hours.
Because the temperatures are so high, the park service released this statement on their website:
The National Park Service recommends not hiking below the rim during the excessive heat warning. Anyone who still plans to hike into the canyon should take extra precautions to hike smart. Hikers should plan to hike before 10 am and after 4pm, resting near shade and water to avoid the worst heat of the day. The National Park Service advises that anyone hiking in heat should replace fluids and electrolytes frequently, not wait until thirsty to start replacing fluids, drink small amounts often and alternate between water and a sports drink with electrolytes. It is also important to balance food intake with fluid consumption. Additional information about hiking smart in the heat is available at https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/hike-smart.htm. Hiking in extreme heat can lead to serious health risks including heat exhaustion, heatstroke, hyponatremia, and hyperthermia. All visitors to Grand Canyon should ensure they are drinking plenty of fluids, soaking clothes with water, resting in shade during the heat of the day, watching out for signs of distress in traveling companions, and dressing appropriately for the weather.