ARCO, Idaho -- Authorities continue to search for a 70-year-old Boise woman feared lost and possibly injured in the remote Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Friends Amy Linkert, 70, and Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, 63, from Boise were last seen in Arco, Idaho on Thursday September 19. That's when the pair had planned a day hike in Craters of the Moon National Monument, according to officials with the Butte County Sheriff's Office.
Public information officer Tracy Weaver says it was during that hike that one or both of the women became hurt or disoriented, and the pair split up.
Jo Elliot-Blakeslee later died, and was discovered yesterday near the popular Tree Molds Trail inside the national monument. An Idaho National Guard helicopter search and rescue team spotted her from the air.
She was found face up on the lava, wearing only a short sleeve shirt and pants, but without a jacket, backpack, food or water. They were able to remove her body from the lava field.
Blakeslee appeared to have become disoriented while possibly searching for help and died of exposure. Authorities do not suspect foul play in her death.
"We believe she either heard or saw traffic, and started heading out toward the road on the lava field," Weaver said.
Do rescuers believe Linkert is also deceased?
"It's too soon to tell," Weaver said. "She may have taken shelter."
SEARCH CONTINUES THURSDAY
Blakeslee and Linkert were reported missing on Monday morning. Their vehicle was later found at the Tree Molds Trail parking lot, a popular trailhead in the monument.
Wednesday's search was called off shortly after 5:30 p.m. because of rain and cold temperatures. Weaver says about 40 searchers will continue to hunt for the remaining missing woman on Thursday.
Three helicopters will assist in the search if weather conditions improve.
"We've got four dog teams, we've got a couple of different task forces that will be searching on the ground," Weaver said.
Task force members include park service employees, Butte County Sheriff's Office personnel, and a team of search and rescue workers from Custer County.
It's worth noting that visitors are still being allowed inside Craters of the Moon National Monument. However, a command center has been set up inside the main visitor's center.
"We haven't closed the Tree Molds Trail, but we're asking visitors to stay away from that area so the dogs can have a cleaner scent," Weaver said.
Dr. Jo Elliott Blakeslee worked as a physician at the Snake River Correctional Institution. She started in February of 2007 and worked to give medical assistance to inmates. She was a compassionate person and the facility is in shock over the loss, according to Cathleen Shroyer, the facility's public information officer.