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ID: Hunter missing for 3 weeks in Idaho Wilderness

Friends join in Idaho search for missing man

Published Oct. 9, 2008
By Kim Ring
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
STAFF

The search for Ronald Gray of North Brookfield, a retired state police captain who hasn’t been heard from since he separated from hunting companions in Idaho Sept. 19, continued yesterday.

The search included two of Mr. Gray’s friends, retired Massachusetts state Troopers Robert Benoit and Arthur Cournoyer, Idaho County Chief Deputy Sheriff John J. Nida said. The men were paired up with guides and went into the forest for several hours.

Still the searchers, who will be back in the Nez Perce National Forest today, have not located Mr. Gray and will meet tomorrow to decide future plans for the search.

Yesterday’s efforts included two helicopters, six posse members and two trained scent and cadaver dogs from Clearwater County, Idaho. The searchers combed points of interest and had recently located a campsite at Wolf Point, though it was unclear who had used the site, which appeared to be about two weeks old.

Searchers are growing concerned because most searches in the area end successfully after just a few days.

“This is the longest search I have seen since I’ve been here,” Chief Deputy Nida said, adding that he has been with the department for 27 years.

A meeting tomorrow will allow officials to review funding for the search and to consider how the effort will continue during general hunting season. Searchers are often needed to find missing hunters during general hunting season and that could impact the efforts to find Mr. Gray.

About an inch of snow has fallen in the search area but is not sticking to the ground, Chief Deputy Nida said. About 14 people from Massachusetts have arrived in Idaho and are offering encouragement to searchers, telling them of Mr. Gray’s extensive outdoors training and their belief in his ability to survive in the wilderness.

“We are doing all we can to find him,” Chief Deputy Nida said, adding that the lack of clues, “cuts down on any direction for us to go.”

Chief Deputy Nida said there have been erroneous reports that Mr. Gray’s family is being billed for the search. He said it is unlikely the family would be asked for money to pay for the effort though donations are being sought and can be sent to the Idaho County Sheriff’s Posse, 320 West Main St., Grangeville, ID 83530. The checks should specify that the funds are for the posse and the search for Mr. Gray. So far, he said, Mr. Gray’s family has made a voluntary donation but no other funds had been received as of last night.

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