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Search crews find hiker’s body

August 9, 2012

A crew with Inyo County Search and Rescue makes a steep and technical climb west of Big Pine in search of Carson City resident Gary Dankworth, whose remains were located Wednesday evening. Photo courtesy Inyo County Sheriff’s Department

A body found on Norman Clyde Peak this week is believed to belong to the man at the center of the second massive search effort in the Sierra backcountry in as many weeks.
Officials are currently working to identify the body located by search crews Wednesday night in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, but the remains are believed to be those of Gary Dankworth, 60, a physician from Carson City.
Dankworth was reported missing Sunday, and dozens of search and rescue personnel from various local and state agencies had been scouring the mountains for him for four days.
According to the National Park Service, Dankworth’s body was located and recovered from the Middle Palisades of Kings Canyon National Park, on the south face of Norman Clyde Peak.
The discovery was made by the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks personnel.
According to the National Park Service, Dankworth was an experienced backcountry hiker who was camping north of Norman Clyde Peak.
Friends who were with him on the trip, and ultimately reported him missing, said he embarked from his campsite at Finger Lake to summit Norman Clyde Peak on Saturday.
When he failed to return to his campsite that evening, his companions contacted the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office and reported him overdue on the morning of Sunday, July 29.
The cause of death is under investigation.
A multi-agency search effort that included Inyo County Search and Rescue, The National Park Service, California Air National Guard, California Emergency, California Highway Patrol, China Lake Mountain Rescue Group, Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Inyo National Forest, Kern County Search and Rescue, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Marin Search and Rescue, Montrose Search and Rescue, San Diego Search and Rescue, Sierra Madre Search and Rescue, Tehachapi Search and Rescue and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office participated in the search effort.
In all, more than 40 people and four helicopters were involved in search operations.
“This incident was highly supported by the efforts of volunteer search and rescue team members coordinated by Cal EMA,” a press release from the National Park Service states.
A cause of death and positive identification of the body that was recovered will be handled by the Fresno County Coroner.
Wrapping up another case of a missing hiker from late July, Inyo County Deputy Coroner Jeff Mullenhour said he did identify the body of a hiker that was discovered last week as Thomas Heng, 31, of San Rafael.
Mullenhour said the cause of death was “multiple traumatic fractures and hemorrhages from a mountain hiking accident.
“We’re not going to say he fell,” Mullehnour said. “Where we found his body, he could have slipped from 50 feet, or fell from 500.”
Heng was reported missing July 22, when he failed to return from a solo ascent of Mt. Langley.
His body was located in the Old Army Pass area, which was not part of the route he had planned to take.

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