FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) – Teams searching for a missing man in Grand Canyon National Park have made an unexpected discovery this summer.
They found the remains of another person, believed to be Scott Walsh, who was last seen getting off a shuttle on the park’s south side in 2015. The clothes had melted into the environment and the body was positioned in such a way as to be almost undetectable, said park spokeswoman Joelle Baird.
“It happens from time to time here during searches that we end up finding people we weren’t expecting,” she said Wednesday.
The crews were looking for Gabor Berczi-Tomscanyi, a Hungarian national residing in Hong Kong. He was reported missing to Las Vegas police in late July while traveling in the southwestern United States. The car he was driving was located in a Grand Canyon parking lot in mid-August and his body was found a few days later, about 430 feet (131 meters) below the canyon rim at Yavapai Point.
Authorities have determined that Berczi-Tomscanyi died from a traumatic fall, but are still investigating what led to it.
The other body was spotted during an aerial search of Berczi-Tomscanyi. It was found about 600 feet (182 meters) below the Pipe Creek viewpoint and about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) from where Walsh’s day bag was found in 2015, said Baird.
“It was only a coincidence that he was found,” she said. “We weren’t necessarily looking for him, and he wasn’t someone who was really on our radar.”
Walsh was not reported to the park as missing in 2015. His last known residence was in Ecuador. Park officials believe it was him because the day bag had prescriptions with his name on it, and a jacket found with the remains had a driver’s license issued to Walsh of Brooklyn, New York, Baird said. He was 56 years old.
The park could not locate any immediate family but spoke with friends of Walsh, Baird said.
The Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office is working to confirm the identity of the skeletal remains. County spokeswoman Trish Lees said it may require DNA testing.
Unintentional discoveries don’t often happen in Grand Canyon National Park, which covers 1,904 square miles (4,931 square kilometers). The park is larger than the state of Rhode Island.
Rangers undergoing scheduled training have found the remains of people months and years after they went missing. Sometimes the rafters of the Colorado River running through the Grand Canyon find them.
In December 2017, rafters on a day hike found the remains of a Californian man who was last seen on a trail in June of that year.
In 2015, a group of rafters searching for old mining equipment while hiking the canyon came upon a wreckage of a small plane with human bones strewn nearby.
Investigators have long suspected that the homebuilt plane was piloted by Joseph Radford of Glendale, Ariz., And crashed into the canyon in March 2011, likely on purpose, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report. But until the rafters were discovered, there was no visual sign of a crash site.