Search resumes for missing Goliad man in Colorado
by Coy Slavik, Advance-Guard Editor
Jun 13, 2013 | 1556 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CORTEZ, Colo. – The search for a 51-year-old Goliad man resumed Thursday morning at Mesa Verde National Park.

Searchers continued to sweep a two-mile radius of the park in an attempt to find Mitchell Dale Stehling, who has been missing since Sunday.

Stehling told family members at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday that he was going to hike to the Spruce Tree House near the park's headquarters. When Stehling did not return Sunday, family alerted park officials.

Park crew members searched Spruce Canyon, Spruce Tree House, Petroglyph Trail and other trails on Chapin Mesa.

The park's terrain consists of steep canyons and mesa tops at elevations between 6,500 feet and 8,000 feet.

Betty Lieurance, the park's public information officer, said Wednesday that Mesa Verde hikers usually don't go missing this length of time.

"It's usually because they took a wrong turn and we find them or they redirect themselves within two to five hours," Lieurance said.

The park is home to mountain lions and black bear. Lieurance said the last reported mountain lion attack of a hiker was in 1997.

The trails in Mesa Verde are very strenuous with steep inclines and drops. Stehling was last seen hiking to the Spruce Tree House to view cliff dwellings.

"There are places where you can fall," Lieurance said. "You can see the Spruce Tree House from the headquarters area. We're thinking he got off on the Petroglyph Trail rather than the Spruce Tree House. All of the hikes here are somewhat strenuous because you're going down and then you have to go up at a higher elevation."

The park is spread over 52,000 acres. Stehling was last seen wearing a brown shirt and hat, khaki shorts and hiking boots. He was not carrying any water or other gear.

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