STRATTON, Vt. (AP) – The search for a missing camper narrowed Monday to a Green Mountain National Forest pond where a pair of shoes were spotted floating, with hope fading he would be found alive, authorities said.
“It’s pretty much a recovery operation now,” said Vermont State Police Lt. William O’Leary.
Edgar R. Gonzalez, 29, of Cambridge, Mass., had been camping with about 20 other people near Grout Pond when he turned up missing about 6:30 p.m. Saturday during a hike.
The hiking party, which consisted of Gonzalez and four others, was walking on trails when they stopped at an old campsite and when they started off again, Gonzalez got separated, according to O’Leary.
At about 10 p.m., after looking for him near the pond, members of his group and other campers not associated with them heard several shouts for help and splashing water coming from the direction of the center of the pond, O’Leary said. But Gonzalez still couldn’t be found.
His friends reported him missing to the Winhall Police Department about 10:30 p.m.
On Sunday, a kayaker found shoes believed to belong to Gonzalez floating in the pond.
“It’s a fairly remote, pretty little spot,” said Bob Bayer, who works at a Manchester ranger station. “It gets a fair amount of use, a lot of canoeing, hiking. The terrain isn’t too terribly difficult around the pond.”
Police searched Saturday and Sunday, using dogs, a special wilderness search-and-rescue team and Vermont State Police troopers, to no avail.
The search was suspended about 10 p.m. Sunday and resumed Monday, with a Vermont State Police dive team going into the pond to look for signs of Gonzalez, who police believe may have broken off from his group and entered the water.
“It’s a very detail-oriented dive,” said O’Leary. “They cordon off areas and do grid patterns.”
Alerted by authorities, Gonzalez’ parents flew to Vermont to observe the search operations.