Rescue workers unsuccessfully searched a rugged Arizona wilderness area for a third day in triple-digit temperatures for three Utah men who went missing while looking for the legendary Lost Dutchman Gold Mine.
By late Tuesday night, authorities said there still was no sign of the three men from Salt Lake City. The men have been in the Superstition Mountains since at least Sunday and possibly nearly a week, Maricopa County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Jesse Spurgin said. They were last heard from on June 6.
Curtis Meriworth, 67, Ardean Charles, 62, and Malcolm Meeks, 51, planned on hiking into the mountains and exploring the area about 40 miles east of Phoenix during the day and spending nights in a motel, Spurgin said.
One of the men became lost in the same area last year and had to be rescued. Spurgin said he was unable to confirm exactly which of the three men had become lost.
The area near Lost Dutchman State Park and the Superstition Wilderness is filled with steep canyons, soaring rocky outcroppings, cactus and heavy brush. With temperatures soaring above 110 degrees this week and the men apparently unprepared for lengthy backcountry stays, their lives could be in serious danger.
"Hopefully we're going to find them alive and we're continuing to search with that in mind," Spurgin said.
The Lost Dutchman mine has drawn prospectors of all stripes for more than a century. Fabled as a mother lode mined by a Mexican family in the 1840s before being lost, it was supposedly rediscovered by a German immigrant named Jacob Waltz and his partner in the 1870s.
The partner was killed by Indians (or possibly Waltz himself, according to a history on the state park website), and Waltz purportedly hid stashes of gold before returning to Phoenix, where he died in 1891. Searchers have tried in vain to find the mine ever since.
The men were apparently just the latest intent on finding their fortunes, Spurgin said. The sheriff's office found the men's car at a trailhead on Sunday afternoon after their family members reported them overdue. On Tuesday, two helicopters, six searchers on horseback, search teams with dogs and about a dozen posse members and deputies were looking for them.