Missing Hikers Identified as Damian & Evan McManus, Searchers Return to MN

Updated: 07/18/2014 6:27 PM KSTP.com

Damian and Evan McManus of St. Louis Park
Damian and Evan McManus of St. Louis Park

Authorities have confirmed that the bodies of two people found on Mount Evans in Colorado are that of a father and son that had been missing since they went for a hike in April.
The Clear Creek County Sheriff's Office said Friday the bodies of Damian and Evan McManus of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, were recovered Thursday in close proximity to each other.
They were last heard from April 2, when they told a friend they were going to scale a peak. They were reported missing four days later.

Dozens of searchers have spent 5,000 hours, during 46 trips, looking for them.

This week, four local firefighters from Eden Prairie, St. Louis Park and Edina,  with expertise in mountain climbing, volunteered their time and skills to help out.

"It was both physically and mentally exhausting," Hugo Searle with the St. Louis Park Fire Department explained.  He went on to say, "our mission from the start was not a happy one."

The crews were determined.

"You're very focused when you're out there. Every run through the woods is taken as seriously as the first one in the morning to the last one at the end of the day," said Edina Fire Chief Tom Schmitz.

Volunteers searched the roughest of terrain on the side of a steep mountain from sunrise to sunset.  It's believed Damian and his son were trapped in the harsh elements last Spring. 

"We understand the importance of bringing closure to families in these situations," Schmitz said.

Thursday, Mount Evans finally gave up its secret.  A family friend discovered 18-year-old Evan, a senior at St. Louis Park High School, first.  Moments later, and a few feet away, another rescuer found Damian.  A medical examiner confirmed their identities using dental records. 

Outside the McManus' home in St. Louis Park, an orange ribbon was wrapped around a tree to honor the father and son.  The firefighters are wearing them on their shirts.

"We're glad it happened while we were out there, and now it's time for healing for the family."

The McManus family sent out a statement Friday offering their “deepest thanks for the diligent and on-going efforts” of the search and rescue teams. “Their unwavering focus, strength and positivity have kept the search active and gave hope that Damian and Evan would be brought home.”

Late Friday afternoon, Katherine McManus posted on Facebook what she's not ready to say in person just yet.  She thanked, "all the dedicated searchers that worked tirelessly and persevered through the elements to find Damian and Evan, so that we can bring them home."  She went on to say she sends hugs to each and everyone in spirit.

A family spokesperson says it's too soon for details regarding a funeral or memorial service right now.  They're working on both.