Dr. Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, aged 63, went hiking with her friend, Amelia Linkert, about a month ago in Idaho’s national Craters of The Moon park. The two were last seen on September 19th, in a campground on the park’s grounds. The two were declared missing on September 24th, and a hunt began to find them. Linkert was found a few days later, but the hunt to find Dr. Blakeslee was stalled because of the government shutdown.
During the partial government shutdown, which barely a week into the search for Dr. Blakeslee, park officials got a waiver to keep 10 rangers on patrol and a 3-person skeleton crew on hand, though none of the employees were sure if they would get paid or not. This, essentially, left them acting as volunteers in the search for the missing Dr. Blakeslee. After the shutdown ended, congress immediately voted to give backpay to all furloughed federal employees, such as the rangers and skeleton crew.
During the shutdown, hope was held out by Dr. Blakeslee’s family and friends that she would be found alive and well. However, this was not the case. Yesterday, Dr. Blakeslee’s body was discovered about a mile away from where Linkert had been retrieved. Park Superintendent Dan Buckley said on the topic of finding the body, “We hope that this will bring closure to her family, friends and all those who have been involved in the search. We join the family in thanking the searchers and local communities for the tremendous outpouring of support that we have received throughout this intense effort.”
As of yet, no autopsy has been performed, so the cause and date of death are still unknown. As such, it is hard to know how big a role the government shutdown played in having Dr. Blakeslee’s body found, rather than her living person.[Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.]