October 15, 2012 in Nation/World

Officials: 2 missing hikers found alive in Montana

David Dishneau Associated Press
 
Brenda Ahearn photo

This Oct. 7, 2012 photo shows St. Mary Falls in Glacier National Park in Montana. Rescue teams at Glacier National Park searched in wintery conditions and rugged terrain Sunday for two East Coast hikers reported missing by family members. Park officials said 50 searchers were looking for 32-year-old Neal Peckens of Virginia and 32-year-old Jason Hiser of Maryland. Hometowns weren’t available. Weather was the biggest challenge facing searchers, who have found 18 inches of snow on the trail at higher elevations and five-foot drifts in some areas, spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — Two Virginia veterinarians reported missing while hiking in Glacier National Park were found alive Monday, elated family members and park officials said.

Jason Hiser of Richmond, Va., and Neal Peckens of Herndon, Va. were found by searchers about 3:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, park officials said, noting the men had no injuries and were reunited with waiting relatives.

“Initial information indicates they are well and will be returning to their families! Yeah!” announced a post on the park’s Facebook page. The two had been reported missing by their families Friday after failing to catch a flight home.

Rescue teams located the men after as many as 50 people laboring in wintry conditions scoured back country near Two Medicine, Mont., for days by air, on foot and on horseback, aided by a dog team.

Peckens’ wife notified one of his aunts with the happy news, said the aunt’s husband, Henry Stiles. The men were capable of walking on their own but were being flown by helicopter to the nearest ranger station, Stiles said.

Hiser and Peckens had taken several hiking trips to other western national parks in the past four years, Hiser’s mother, Sandy Hiser, of La Vale, Md., said earlier Monday.

According to their backcountry permit, the men planned to hike Oct. 9-10.

Both men are originally from western Maryland: Peckens from Boonsboro and Hiser from La Vale. They met at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Va., Stiles said. Both are married.

Hiser is an associate veterinarian at the Broad Street Veterinary Hospital in Richmond.

Peckens is a cardiologist with Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates. He works out of offices in Vienna and Springfield, Va., according to the group’s website.

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Associated Press writer Kasey Jones in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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