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Grand Canyon National Park Rangers Scaling Back Search For Two Missing in Colorado River


Search efforts are being scaled back for two men missing since they jumped into the Colorado River near the Black Bridge upstream of Phantom Ranch last week. Kurt Repanshek photo.

With odds dwindling quickly, the search for two young men missing in the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park is being scaled back.

Three young men -- Mark Merrill, 16, Joey Merrill, 22, and Saif Savaya, 16 -- dived or jumped into the river last Thursday in the area of Phantom Ranch. They were trying to swim across the river. None was wearing a life jacket, according to park officials.

Mark Merrill's body was recovered in the Colorado River on Friday, May 1, approximately one mile below Boat Beach. The bodies of Joey Merrill and Saif Savaya have yet to be located.

After an intensive two-day search by helicopter, by boat, foot patrols and the use of a search dog team, park rangers began to scale back search operations on Saturday after their search yielded no further signs of the young men. That decision was based on the totality of all circumstances, including water temperature, the swift current, no life jackets were worn, and all three were likely fatigued from their long hike to the river.

Park rangers will carry on with limited continuous efforts until the young men have been located and recovered. Those efforts include ranger patrols on the river and on nearby trails, enlisting the assistance of the many commercial and private boaters currently on the river, and continued distribution of a missing person’s flyer to boaters and hikers along the river.

Park officials say additional news releases will be issued only as new details become available.


Death by stupid. Relatives will try and find other reasons, but basically, it's death by stupid. Doesn't anyone remember when your mama warned you that if you hold your hand over an open flame, it's gonna hurt? We're not e-volving. We're de-volving.Don't run with scissors. Don't pat the bears and go, "Nice bearsie, nice bearsie.' Don't step over the rail for that one last spectacular shot (because it wll BE your last spectacular shot). Don't eat buffet eggs if they're a little green. Don't give rides to strangers unless you have an AK-47 on speed trigger. Don't believe ANYTHING Dick Cheney says. Don't open the door to strangers or anyone who says they're from the government. Don't eat pretty flowers if that's all you know about them. Don't use the thermal pools as hot tubs. Don't wear that cute two two-piece short set into the wildnerness, particularly with high heels. Don't keep the Cheetoz close in case you want a midnight snac. Jeez, do I have to go on?

You shouldn't say things like that LynnBerk. You don't know what all went on. Were you there? NO. One boy may have gotten too close and fell in and the other two bravely tried to save him! Regardless of what happened must you be so insensitive? I think not. Maybe you should have listened to your mama when she told you "if you have nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all."

I truly hope the families of these young men do not read the Comments Section of this report. Dottie

My condolences to the familys of these young men. It's a hard club to belong to. Anyone planning to enter the Grand Canyon on foot or by river needs to read " Over tne Edge, Death in the Grand Canyon". This book is written by Ghiglieri and Myers. National Parks are spectacualar but dangerous places. Enjoy but be prepared and educate yourself to what can go wrong.

we love and miss you saif. we're all praying for you at SHHS. all there is now is hope....stay strong. <3

Saif Savaya, i hope everything turns out for the best. I love you man.

You don't know the circumstances. Knowing Saif personally, I can easily say he was the nicest guy I have ever met. If you died like this, would you want people saying stuff like that about you? And also basically mimicing you? Get some maturity, grow up. You must'nt have a concience.

miss u saif hope a safe return were praying for u buddy please come back we all miss u

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