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Search & Rescue

Remains of missing hiker, Susan Schmierer found near the Amboy Crater Nat’l Landmark

May 3, 2019

AMBOY, Calif – On Sunday, April 28, 2019, Search and Rescue personnel from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department located and recovered the remains of 65-year-old missing hiker Susan Schmierer, in the desert wilderness area east of the Amboy Crater National Landmark. Susan was reported missing along with her husband William Schmierer on June 13, 2018, when US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rangers found the Schmierers’ vehicle abandoned at the Amboy Crater Trailhead parking lot during a routine check of the site.

The Sheriff Department’s Morongo Basin Search and Rescue (MBSAR) team, led by Sergeant D. Garvin and Deputy N. Campos, commenced and coordinated search and rescue efforts that day, and three days later on June 16, 2018, recovered the remains of William Schmierer. An autopsy confirmed William died of heat exposure, and no foul play was suspected. Multiple, large-scale search efforts continued since that day to locate Susan Schmierer and utilized Sheriff’s helicopters, K9 teams, volunteer search and rescue dog teams, Deputies, Detectives, Coroner investigators, and BLM Rangers. Over a dozen Search and Rescue volunteers spent thousands of hours searching for Susan and covered an area of approximately 36 square miles. Additionally, the Schmierers’ family conducted and coordinated their own searches and utilized private companies to assist Sheriff’s Department efforts.

Summertime search efforts were hampered by high daytime temperatures which allowed for only brief windows of time in the mornings to conduct search efforts. In addition to the harsh terrain filled with sharp lava rock and no available shade, by 10:00 a.m. most days, the ground temperatures in the lava fields would exceed 160 degrees.

Susan’s cause of death is pending autopsy, but at this time appears to be consistent with accidental heat exposure.

The Sheriff’s Department would like to remind members of the public of the substantial risk involved in hiking at the Amboy Crater during the summer months, and to take adequate precautions if they plan to do so.

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