Arizona Man Last Seen in Prescott National Forest Goes Missing, Search Underway

by Emily Morgan
Photo by: Josh Brasted / Contributor

A search is underway for Jeff Stambaugh, a missing hiker from Tuscon, Arizona, who was last seen in Prescott National Forest. According to reports, Stambaugh has been missing since Sept. 30 after he never returned from a camping excursion at Prescott National Forest’s Granite Mountain.

“Stambaugh made reservations at the Yavapai Campground within the Granite Basin Recreation Area for Tuesday Sept. 27 through Thursday Sept. 29. When he arrived in town on Tuesday, Stambaugh sent a text message to a friend in the area asking if they’d like to meet up at some point. The friend later reported Stambaugh missing. On Wednesday Sept. 30 around 10:30 am, Stambaugh asked the camp host to charge his phone. He left it and hasn’t been seen since,” the sheriff’s office said.

The Yavapai Search and Rescue Team has since combed the trails near Metate trailhead, where rescue crews found his car. Previously, his friend, Lucy Hall-Berry, explained that he suffered an ankle injury, which makes her believe it’s attributed to his disappearance.

Friend of missing hiker in Prescott National Forest concerned injured ankle is a factor in his disappearance

“The concern is maybe that’s why he’s not on the trail, he could’ve injured it again, and there’s no way of it’s hard to find. So they’re finally working off trail right now,” Hall-Berry said.

Since he vanished, Hall-Berry and her friend Desirae Riggs have been spreading the word, trying to get any information about his whereabouts.

According to Hall-Berry, Stambaugh didn’t take his cell phone with him because he reportedly didn’t charge it. However, they believe he did bring water with him.

“They’ve had helicopters. They’ve had dogs, they’ve had the drone. They started on Sunday with 30 volunteers from search and rescue,” Hall-Berry said.

Despite the rescue crew’s best efforts, there has been no sign of Stambaugh. Officials are now worried he could be a victim of the area’s wildlife.

“We have cougars here. We have bear sightings. Right now, we have two bears the forest service said are juvenile bears, and they’re preparing for winter time,” Riggs said.

Hall-Berry also said that the campground gathered up his tent and belongings. Authorities had his car towed. She’s also pleading with some of the area’s hiking groups to get volunteers to help search for him.

Recently, a 24-year-old woman was rescued after she got disoriented on a Colorado trail, leading her to phone authorities for help. Once she called them, she told dispatchers she was lost and ill-equipped to spend the night on Castle Peak. However, the deputies reportedly told the woman to “hunker down for the night.”

The hiker sent a signal for help using a location device at about 9:30 pm on Monday, Sept. 26, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said. Thankfully, rescuers contacted the hiker the following morning and gave her route information. She followed the route and made it safely down the mountain.