MONTEBELLO, VA., AUG. 14 -- A forestry management team was brought in today to aid in the search for an Appalachian Trail hiker missing for nearly a week.
The specially trained team will coordinate the efforts of nearly 300 searchers, said Chuck Anibal, assistant chief naturalist at Shenandoah National Park.
The search for Mark Richard Noepel, 25, a naturalist at the park, has been under way for nearly a week. Noepel's truck was found in Nelson County last weekend, but since then the only clues have been the discovery of Noepel's camping gear a few miles from the truck and scents followed by tracking dogs over a wide area. The search area extends from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., to Roanoke.
"There's no evidence of foul play . . . but we can't rule it out," Anibal said.
Another possibility is that Noepel went off into the woods to work out some problems. Anibal said a journal found at Noepel's home indicated that he may have been depressed.
Anibal said Noepel "has been known to get away and hike to work out his problems."
The searchers include 106 people from the Army, 60 people from the Civil Air Patrol and volunteers from the National Park Service, state and federal forest services, and local rescue squads and sheriff's departments.