One searcher's story: Finding Dr. Jo Blakeslee

One searcher's story: Finding Dr. Jo Blakeslee

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by Karen Zatkulak

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KTVB.COM

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 6:01 PM

Updated Saturday, Oct 26 at 2:57 PM

BOISE -- One of the lead volunteer searchers at Craters of the Moon National Monument is sharing his story.

For nearly a month, hundreds of people looked for Dr. Jo Blakeslee.

The 63-year-old woman went missing in mid-September. She was on a hiking trip with 70-year-old Amelia Linkert, and the women never returned.

Linkert was found shortly after, and authorities said she died from exposure.

Searchers found Dr. Blakeslee by helicopter on Tuesday evening.

She was located about a mile from where Linkert was found, and about a quarter mile from the highway.

Dan Paulson was one of many who volunteered his time for the search. Paulson was sitting at home on furlough because of the government shutdown when he heard the news about the missing women and decided to help.

"I feel spiritually close even though I've never met them or seen them," said Paulson.

With his hiking boots in hand, Paulson described the personal connection he feels to the two women he walked for.

"There's so many dangers, so many place to get hurt or killed," said Paulson.

Despite the risk, searchers kept looking for Dr. Blakeslee.

Many grew exhausted after the intense hiking and got cuts from the rugged terrain.

Paulson searched almost every day for more than two weeks, staying overnight at the park.

"Only the GPS told how to get in and out of there," said Paulson. "You just lose all the features and the landmarks. You can hear a distant highway, and that's all there is out there."

His pictures show empty lava fields since most days during the week he was alone out looking for Dr. Blakeslee.

"It was incredibly difficult," said Paulson."I got sore, very tired, the slopes you are on are angled all the time."

With broken boots and cut up hands, every day Paulson would hike a dozen miles. He tried to understand both women, so he could understand what happened.

"When I found a couple walking sticks that Amy had used, how she ended and where she laid down was kind of revealed to me," said Paulson.

That led Paulson to find out more about Linkert and Blakeslee, including how they fought to find help as long as possible.

"I knew that would take strength and will and somebody that was pretty stubborn," said Paulson.

Paulson says their strength affected his.

He was so moved, he later posted his perspective online, to share with both victims' families.

"Most people don't chose when and how they die, but we chose how to live, and Amy and Jo in their life showed us how to live," said Paulson.

 

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