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Goliad man still missing in Mesa Verde National Park

By Sonny Long , Bianca Montes
June 11, 2013 at 1:11 a.m.
Updated June 12, 2013 at 1:12 a.m.


The search for a missing Goliad man has passed the 48-hour mark.

Mitchell Dale Stehling, 51, was last seen Sunday in Mesa Verde Park in Colorado, said Betty Lieurance, park public information officer.

More than 60 rangers and other emergency services personnel are conducting a 2-mile radius search.

Park officials say they do not have a time-based protocol on when to stop a search and said the search would continue.

"We're still looking," she said. "We still haven't found him."

Stehling was traveling with his wife and parents and stopped to visit the park, said daughter-in-law Melissa Stehling.

"It was just a day trip for them," she said.

Mitchell Stehling was last seen hiking toward Spruce Tree House, according to a Mesa Verde National Park news release.

Spruce Tree House is the third largest cliff dwelling and houses about 130 Puebloan rooms.

Temperatures in the park are in the 90s, and the terrain consists of steep canyons and mesa tops at an elevation between 6,500 and 8,000 feet.

Stehling does not have any water or gear on him, according to the news release.

The family has high hopes that Mitchell will be found because he comes from a military family and has the wits to survive, Melissa Stehling said.

"He's probably already built a tree house and is waiting for rescuers to find him," she said.

Lieurance said it's unusual for a person to be missing this long in the park.

"Typically, when people get lost in the park, we find them, or they resurface within a couple of hours," she said.

Mitchell Stehling was last seen wearing a brown shirt and hat, khaki shorts and hiking boots.

The search will continue at daylight Wednesday.

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