Minn. firefighters search for 2 hikers missing in Colo. - KMSP-TV

Minn. firefighters search for 2 hikers missing in Colo.

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) -

Although Damian and Evan McManus have been missing since April, a team of firefighters from the Minneapolis area is bound for the Colorado mountains where the father and son were last known to be.

The 51-year-old father from St. Louis Park, Minn., and his 18-year-old son were last heard from on April 2, before they went for a spring hike on Mount Evans. Authorities located their vehicle at the parking lot at the base of the mountain, but rescue operations were called off after a storm left snow atop the rugged area until May. Although searchers from across Colorado have participated in the second search, no trace of the two was found.

"As more and more time goes by and they're not found, it's just devastating," Andrea Bouzrara, family spokesman, told Minnesota Public Radio. "The process of grieving and moving forward is just so hard."

Now, four firefighters from Minnesota have volunteered to go join the search, and a donor has offered to pick up the cost of their airfare. They come from departments in St. Louis Park, Edina and Eden Prairie. Starting on Tuesday, they'll scour the mountain in the hopes of finding the remains of the two.

One of the volunteers is St. Louis Park Firefighter Hugo Searle, who is also a high-altitude mountain guide. Searle has scaled Mount Everest, and he told Fox 9 News that his family has felt close to the case because they are connected via the community's school system, where his wife works as a teacher, and an international move.

"I have never met the family," Searle confirmed. "I feel associated with the family through my connections as a St. Louis Park resident, and I'm a British transplant the same as Damien."

MORE: 7 tragedies strike St. Louis Park School District in recent years

Searle's daughter also attends the same school that Evan McManus did. Many students who returned from spring break to learn of the loss were aggrieved, and leaders called in counselors and postponed sporting events and concerts as a result.

According to the McManus family spokeswoman, volunteers have been making weekly trips all summer. In total, more than 4,500 search hours have been logged -- but time is short.

"They basically have a five-week window, and then it will start to snow again," Bouzrara said.

FROM THE FOX 9 ARCHIVE

April 7, 2014: Minnesota father and son missing on Colo. hiking trip

April 9, 2014: 'All efforts exhausted' for missing Minn. father, son

April 10, 2014: Students at St. Louis Park High School mourn loss of missing hikers

May 10, 2014: Search for missing Minn. hikers resumes in Colo.


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