Garfield County scales back search for missing Mapleton man

Austin Madsen. Photo: Emily Eliza Madsen

GARFIELD COUNTY, Utah, Feb. 4, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Garfield County officials have scaled back the search for a 32-year-old Mapleton man who has been missing since Jan. 26.

Austin Madsen was last seen while heading to Kanab to go hiking, according to social media posts attempting to locate him.

Crews from several agencies have been searching for Madsen since Sunday, Jan. 29, when a ping on his cellphone placed him in the Dry Hollow area on Mount Dutton, according to a news release from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. That search was scaled back Friday.

“This does not mean hope is lost. Austin is known to be in great physical shape and has considerable backcountry skills that he can use the survive,” the sheriff’s office said.

“With extremely low temperatures and wind chills compounding the effects of sub-zero conditions, it is our best hope that Austin Madsen has possibly self-rescued from this situation and has yet to contact authorities or family members.”

Search and rescue crews located and followed a trail of footprints believed to be Madsen’s for several miles before suspending the search about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday due to extreme weather conditions, officials said.

Deputies redirected the search Tuesday, “as we believe he may have begun to travel off Mount Dutton on foot the same way he came in with his vehicle,” the news release states.

The search shifted to the Black Canyon area, where crews on foot, horseback and track-wheeled UTVs “scoured the cliffs and terrain throughout Black Canyon” toward Antimony, the release states. Drones also were used in the search, according to the sheriff’s office.

Early in the week, the search was more limited and utilized a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter “to protect the integrity of any tracks Austin may have left in the snow,” the release states.

“Unfortunately, no signs of Austin were identified,” the sheriff’s office stated.

As a result, Garfield County has scaled back its search and rescue efforts “to a more passive approach to best allocate resources throughout the county,” the release states.

Those efforts include monitoring Madsen’s cellphone, adding him a national missing person database and issuing an all-police bulletin to be on the lookout for the missing Mapleton man, according to the sheriff’s office.

The U.S. Forest Service and crews from Piute, Sevier, Iron and Kane counties assisted Garfield County in the search.

Anyone with information about Madsen’s whereabouts is asked to call the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office at 435-676-2678.


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