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Search Under Way for Hikers at Stone Mountain State Park

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Michael F. Easley, Governor
William G. Ross, Jr., Secretary

Release Note: 
Charlie Peek
Release Date: 
Sunday, July 23, 2006

Search Under Way for Hikers at Stone Mountain State Park

RALEIGH --A search is ongoing today for two hikers from Miami, Fl, missing since Friday at Stone Mountain State Park in Wilkes and Alleghany counties, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.

State park rangers and rescue team members from several North Carolina counties are searching a rugged area in the northwestern section of the 17,000-acre park near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Missing are John R. Patterson, 44, and Julia Martinez, 35, both of whom came to the park for a hike and picnic lunch about noon Friday from Patterson's vacation home in Alleghany County, park officials said. Patterson is a white male, six foot, 220 pounds. Martinez is a Hispanic female, 5 foot, 3 inches and 130 pounds.

"One scenario is that they may have exited the park and sought help, perhaps near the Blue Ridge Parkway," said Tom Jackson, west district superintendent for the parks system. "We're asking that anyone why may have seen this couple to contact the park. And, we've notified law enforcement agencies in several western counties to be on the lookout for them."

The couple's car, a 2000 Mercedes Benz registered to Patterson's father, was found late Friday afternoon at the Widow Falls trailhead. The couple's picnic lunch was found inside the vehicle. Rangers and Wilkes County rescue personnel immediately began a search of that trail and connecting trails Friday night.

A continuing search failed to show any signs of the couple on the trails or adjoining areas. Rangers are leading a team of about 30 searchers today concentrating on a sweep of off-trail areas.