Body on Camelback Mountain identified as missing hiker

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by The Associated Press and azfamily.com

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on June 4, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 6 at 10:40 AM

PHOENIX -- A body found near the top of a Phoenix mountain has been identified as a 23-year-old Seattle man who went missing after going on a weekend hike.

Maricopa County officials said Wednesday that the Medical Examiner's Office used dental records to identify the body as that of Eric Fernandes.

They say the cause and manner of death are pending.

The body was found Tuesday evening in the Echo Canyon area of Camelback Mountain.

Fernandes was last seen Saturday by other hikers, who said he was alone and apparently surprised by the difficulty of the hike.

"It's a physical activity. It's not a fun little tourist attraction," said Brett Stewart, a fitness author who was hiking the mountain Wednesday.

The search for Fernandes began Sunday after his father reported him missing.

Phoenix Fire Department officials say hikers reported finding the body about 200 feet from the peak in rugged terrain dotted with brush.

Stewart said the easy start to the Echo Canyon trail often gives hikers a false sense of security.

"Because you start off with a little trail, people just think that's going to be the trail all the way up. There's nothing like that once you get halfway up," he said.

Stewart recommends hikers bring 12 ounces of water for every 15 minutes they will spend on the mountain.

"You've got to be prepared for this. Some people just take it a little bit too lightly," he said. "It's a very difficult trail. It's 110 degrees out. It's so easy to get disoriented and get lost."

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