The body of an East Valley man who had been missing for six weeks was one of two recovered in the Grand Canyon Friday.
Authorities, who are investigating the deaths, identified the body of a man discovered about 500 feet into the canyon as Shaw Joseph Ostermann, 47, of Tempe. Osterman’s family reported him missing on March 12, according to Grand Canyon National Park spokeswoman Shannan Marcak.
Ostermann’s body was discovered close to 5 p.m. on Thursday about 500 feet into the canyon west of Mather Point at Grand Canyon National Park by a member of the Peregrine Fund, a nonprofit organization observing condors at the park, Marcak said.
Just a handful of hours earlier, at about 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center also received a report from the Phoenix Police Department of a possibly suicidal woman in the park, and her body was discovered about four hours later by a park helicopter aiding in the search before recovering her body the next day, according to Grand Canyon National Park.
Because of poor weather conditions and the time of evening, rangers had to wait until Friday to confirm the reported discovery of the bodies. The recoveries of the bodies placed the number of fatalities at the Grand Canyon to five on the year, Marcak said.
Park rangers rappelled about 500 feet below the rim west of Mather Point and traversed to Ostermann’s body to begin their investigation and prepare it for transport. At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Friday, the body was retrieved via helicopter and transported to the park’s Emergency operations center where it was transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner.
Park rangers had been searching for Ostermann since April 16, when his car was discovered in a parking lot near the visitor’s center.
At approximately 11:15 a.m. on Friday, rangers were able to retrieve the body of the woman about 100 feet from below the Trail View overlook on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park; weather conditions temporarily cleared about a half hour ealrier — long enough for the park’s helicopter to be launched and join the search.
Rangers found the woman’s vehicle parked at the Bright Angel Lodge, confirming that she was likely at the west end of the Village and search efforts were further concentrated in that area.
The woman’s name is being withheld pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.
An average of 15 deaths a year happen at Grand Canyon National Park either from falls, heart attacks and auto crashes. Last year, the park had a record high of 21 fatalities, according to the Grand Canyon National Park.
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