HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP/WJZ) — Two Virginia veterinarians with Maryland ties who disappeared while hiking in Montana’s Glacier National Park have been found alive after search crews probed rugged, snow-covered terrain in foul weather for the third straight day.
Jason Hiser, 32, a Boonsboro High School graduate, and Neal Peckens, 32, a Frostburg State University graduate, are in good shape and are walking around, according to the Glacier National Park Facebook page.
The two had taken several hiking trips to other western national parks in the past four years, said Hiser’s mother Sandy of La Vale, Md.
The National Park Service said as many as 50 people searched by air, on foot and on horseback, aided by a dog team as they scoured back country near Two Medicine, Mt., on the park’s east side. The agency said the team found a recently used fire ring and some tracks Sunday on the west side of the Continental Divide that suggested the men may have gone off trail in wintry conditions that included snow 18 inches deep.
According to their back country permit, the men planned to hike Oct. 9-10. They were reported missing by family members Friday after failing to catch a flight home.
Sandy Hiser said Peckens’ wife Deborah arrived Sunday in Montana and was keeping the families updated.
Peckens’ aunt Kathy Stiles in Boonsboro, Md., told The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail Sunday that Peckens was an experienced hiker.
“We have a lot of prayers and people giving us positive thoughts,” she said.
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.
At the Broad Street Veterinary Hospital in Richmond, where Hiser is an associate veterinarian, clients called to offer prayers and assistance, administrator der Au Michael said.
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.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)