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Sheriff Search and Rescue

Search and rescue units with the Coconino County Sheriff's Office search for the remains of missing hiker Thomas Lang, 22.

Courtesy of Coconino County Sheriff's Office

Searchers may have found the remains of a hiker who went missing near Sedona one year ago.

According to information from the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, a set of skeletal remains was located Sunday in the Secret Canyon area in Yavapai County. The Yavapai and Coconino County Medical Examiners are working to determine whether they belong to Thomas Lang, 22, who was last seen alive when his father dropped him off at the Manzanita Campground in Oak Creek Canyon on Dec. 18, 2013.

Lang’s parents have spent many weekends searching for him since he disappeared. They were hiking in the Secret Canyon area this past Saturday when Lang’s mother called the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue to report that she believed she had found her son’s shoes and jacket.

Search and rescue units with the Yavapai and Coconino County Sheriff’s Offices and an Arizona Department of Public Safety rescue helicopter quickly mobilized to search the area where the items were located, spotting a backpack, tarp and guitar believed to belong to the missing hiker. A ground search was conducted the next day.

Around 12:45 p.m. Sunday, searchers located what they believed to be Lang’s remains. They have been sent to the Yavapai County Medical Examiner’s Office, where Yavapai and Coconino County officials are working to positively identify the remains and determine a cause of death.

Lang’s family reported him missing Dec. 22, 2013 after he failed to return from what was supposed to be a five-day hike in Oak Creek Canyon. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office launched a five-day, intensive ground and air search with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, the Civil Air Patrol, the Maricopa County Search and Rescue Unit, the Mojave County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team, DPS Air Rescue Unit and Lang’s parents. That search was suspended Dec. 27 after the search of roughly 30 square miles of rugged terrain failed to turn up any sign of the missing man. The Yavapai and Coconino County Sheriff’s Offices made several additional attempts to find clues regarding Lang’s whereabouts throughout 2014.

Lang’s cause of death is currently unknown.

The reporter can be reached at mmcmanimon@azdailysun.com or 556-2261.
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