Students at St. Louis Park High School mourn Evan McManus - KMSP-TV

Students at St. Louis Park High School mourn loss of missing hikers

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ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (KMSP) -

With the search for a missing father and son from St. Louis Park called off in the Colorado mountains, friends of Evan McManus are now beginning to grieve the senior who did not return from spring break.

Search crews spent a week combing the area where McManus and his father, Damian, went for a day-hike, but no sign of the duo has been found. After officials came to the conclusion that all efforts had been exhausted, the official search-and-rescue effort came to a close. Now, a sad and painful reality is sinking in for friends and family members.

At St. Louis Park High School, the grief was intense on Thursday. With better weather in Colorado over the past few days, hopes of a rescue were high. The Wednesday-night announcement that those efforts are ending hit the student body hard.

"Today, none of my bands are playing. We are talking about it," teacher Steve Schmitz said. "There's a lot of tears. There's a lot of hugging each other. It didn't feel appropriate to have class as normal."

Evan McManus, 18, was the drummer in Schmitz's band for three years, and he was also a soccer player. His father, Damian, is originally from England.

School officials have called off all after-school activities and sports practices, postponing some athletic games and canceling the district orchestra festival and the track invitational with Hutchinson. Counselors are available for students and staff at the high school and all schools district wide.

For now, the McManus family plans to stay in Colorado for at least a couple of days while smaller, volunteer searches for the pair continue while grimly aware that it has been a week, and it is unlikely they would have survived this long.

"It's brutally cold, and if you don't have the right gear, you're in trouble," said Brian Harrow, store manager at REI in Bloomington.

Harrow spent 20 years in Colorado and said he is well aware of the tough conditions in the Rockies. In fact, they nearly prevented his birth. His father went out for a day hike in 1966 not far from where the McManuses disappeared and got lost when a blizzard rolled in. In Harrow's case, however, his father was found after three days -- which was just in the nick of time.

STATEMENT FROM ST. LOUIS PARK SCHOOLS

St. Louis Park High School and the entire school district have heavy hearts as High School Senior Evan McManus and his father Damian are missing in the Colorado wilderness after a spring break trip. It has been reported that the search has been called off as of April 9, 2014. Reports indicate that the search has been thorough and comprehensive and it is in the judgment of the professionals that they have done all they can.

"Our hearts are with the family during this incredibly difficult time. We also understand that many students, staff and parents are grieving," said Superintendent Rob Metz.

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