Chattanooga’s McCallie Middle School student lost in Grand Canyon

Crews at Grand Canyon National Park have been searching for a lost McCallie School student since Saturday, according to a WRCB-TV report.

In a statement, the school’s deputy director of communications and marketing told the Times Free Press: “We are aware of an ongoing situation involving McCallie eighth-grader Jackson Standefer, and the entire McCallie community is praying for the best. Beyond that, McCallie has no comment while we await more information on this developing situation.”

The canyon is a big place and according to Dan Hopkins, in the 1990s, the National Park Service reported that there were 43.5 million visitors to the Arizona landmark (that number includes repeat visitors). During the same decade, according to Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers’s immaculately named and encyclopedic account of canyon fatalities, “Over the Edge,” 117 people lost their lives at the canyon.

The real danger is Heat: Almost 25 percent of recorded deaths (again, excluding plane crashes) have been due to the environment and mostly heat (a few are cases of hypothermia). The heat could also explain the curious dip in deaths in July. When people hike a mountain, they start by going up, so the hardest work comes first.

In the Grand Canyon, it’s the reverse: Hikers head down to start, dropping significantly more than a mile of vertical distance before reaching the Colorado River. It’s also much hotter in the canyon than on the rim. In fact, the average temperatures in the inner canyon can get above 100 degrees in the summer, while they remain much more comfortable thousands of feet above. So it can be all too easy for hikers to find themselves deep in the canyon, with too much heat and not enough water. In July, though, even the rim might get hot enough to dissuade people from pushing themselves beyond their limits.

The canyon staff is well versed in all of this and we pray that that they find the young student.

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