Search underway for missing hiker in Prescott National Forest

Friends say Jeff Stambaugh didnt take his cell phone because it wasn’t charged before going on a hike, but they believe he had water.
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:58 PM MST|Updated: Oct. 4, 2022 at 5:59 PM MST
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PRESCOTT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Tuscon native Jeff Stambaugh was an avid hiker, but a previous ankle injury has his friend worried he might be unable to walk, stranded somewhere in the Prescott National Forest. Stambaugh, 63, has been missing since Sept. 28, after he didn’t return from a camping trip at Granite Mountain.

The Yavapai Search and Rescue Team has scoured the trails near Metate trailhead, where his car was found. “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,” Stambaugh’s friend, Lucy Hall-Berry, said.

Hall-Berry and her friend Desirae Riggs have been spreading the word that Stambaugh is missing. He didn’t take his cell phone because it wasn’t charged. However, they believe he did take 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.

Still, there has been no sign of Stambaugh. Besides the amount of time that has passed, another concern is 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 says the campground gathered up his tent and belongings. Authorities had his car towed. She’s hoping some of the area hiking groups will volunteer to come out to help in the search for him.

Anyone with information on Stambaugh should contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office at (928)-771-3260 or Silent Witness at 1-800-932-3232.