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Oak Creek Canyon, AZ -
On May 28th, 2022, at 9:00 am, The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue team was requested to respond to the A.B. Young Trailhead in Oak Creek Canyon for the report of a missing person.
On Friday the 27th, around 11:00 am, Axel Brugere and his hiking companion John Piekarz, both of Flagstaff, were on a day hike on the A.B. Young Trail near the Bootlegger Day Use area in Oak Creek Canyon. The A.B. Young trail is a short but steep hike from Oak Creek to the top of the plateau. Once on top it gives access to the East Pocket Knob Lookout tower and Forest Service Road 231.
Information gathered indicated the two hikers reached the top around 1:00 pm on Friday. After a short stop, John decided to go exploring the area on top while Axel stayed. About 30 minutes later John returned to where he had left Axel and Axel was gone. After being unable to locate Axel, John thought Axel had gone back down A.B. Young Trial where the vehicle was parked at the Bootlegger Day Use Area.
At this point, John became disoriented and was unable to locate the A.B. Young Trail back down to the vehicle. John located a drainage and started to head back down to Oak Creek. John was able to get down the drainage which ultimately took him to the area of Slide Rock State Park. John finally made it back to the Bootlegger Day use Area at Approximately 11:00 pm. Upon arriving there, he found Axel was not at the vehicle. Having no phone or keys to the vehicle, John slept in the restroom building. In the morning John was able to get a ride back to Flagstaff to his work. John then called the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office to report Axel missing.
Search and Rescue Teams arrived on scene at around 9:00 am Saturday Morning the 28th and started their search for BRUGERE. Search efforts have continued over the weekend with the assistance of an Arizona Department of Public Safety Helicopter on Saturday and Sunday. Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Search and rescue were requested for additional manpower. Currently there are approximately 25 people working the Search. Due to the extreme terrain and topography, CCSO Search and Rescue is utilizing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones) to search the area.
The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is asking if anyone has any information as to this incident to contact the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.
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