Deputies find body of missing hiker in Superstitions


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Steve Bodinet

Posted on July 6, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 6 at 5:19 PM

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SUPERSTITION WILDERNESS AREA, Ariz. -- Maricopa County sheriff's deputies confirmed that they found the body of a hiker missing since Sunday.

Search-and-rescue crews, mostly volunteer, have been scouring the rugged terrain of the Superstition Mountain Wilderness Area for Kenny Clark for nearly a week.

His body was discovered early Friday morning in Garden Valley, just east of the entrance to the First Water Trailhead.

"I sort of suspected," Clark's wife, Heather, said. "He's always hiked. If he could have gotten out to signal, he would have."

Clark, 56, set out for what should have been a four- or five-hour hike Sunday morning. Concerned when he did not return, Clark's family found his car parked near First Water Trailhead at about 6:30 that evening.

They immediately notified authorities and a full-scale search was launched.

Clark had about a gallon of water with him when he began his hike, but that would have run out relatively quickly. The extreme temperatures had been a major concern for the entire search.

"It's not easy to survive in this. Temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees so, of course, it is an urgency for us to try to locate him," Officer Chris Hegstrom with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said early on in the search operation.

Investigators said they believe Clark has been dead since Sunday, which means it's possible he might not have died of dehydration.

Clark's body has been air-lifted out of the area. The medical examiner will determine exactly what happened to him.

This is not the first time Heather Clark has been through something like this. She lost her first husband in 1985. He went hiking and froze to death after getting lost in a snowstorm.

First Water Trail is located just north of Apache Junction and is one of the easiest access points to the Superstition Wilderness Area, which is part of the Tonto National Forest.

The Superstition Mountains are about 50 minutes east of Phoenix near Apache Junction.