Image of Walter S. Scheib III. Courtesy photo
Search And Rescue Mission Underway For Walter Scheib
Submitted by Carol A. Clark
TAOS – The New Mexico State Police is actively engaged in and monitoring a coordinated search and rescue mission for missing person Walter S. Scheib III.
This mission is ongoing and involves numerous agencies and resources.
Scheib reportedly went hiking Saturday, June 13 near Taos. He was the White House executive chef from 1994 until 2005 and had recently moved to the area. When Scheib did not return home June 14, a family member reported him missing to the Taos Police Department.
Scheib’s vehicle was discovered Tuesday, June 16, in a parking area at the Yerba Canyon Trailhead located off N.M. 150, north of Taos. Deputies from the Taos County Sheriff’s Department responded and began an initial search for Scheib.
The search yielded no results. The New Mexico State Police was contacted in the evening hours of June 16, and officers responded to the area. The New Mexico State Police contacted the New Mexico Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator and efforts began to initiate a SAR mission. Because of the late hour and darkness covering the terrain, the SAR mission would begin the following morning.
New Mexico SAR volunteers and coordinators began an active ground search mission Wednesday, June 17. New Mexico State Police aircraft flew search patterns in the area and reported thick vegetation was preventing them from seeing into the trails. Deep canyons were also hindering the search at lower elevations. Wednesday night the search was suspended because of terrain.
Ground search continued Thursday, June 18. All air search was suspended due to thunderstorms in the area. That evening, data was provided from Scheib’s cell phone, which revealed his phone’s last updated location was around 3 p.m. Saturday, June 13, in the search area.
Friday, June 19, the New Mexico State Police aircraft expanded its air search based on possible locations provided by the cell phone data. High mountain peaks, deep canyons and dense vegetation made the air search difficult. The Civil Air Patrol and New Mexico National Guard also provided ground resources to search the area. Rough terrain made it difficult for ground operations to conduct searching.
This extensive search effort is ongoing today, utilizing resources from the New Mexico SAR volunteers and coordinators, the New Mexico National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and New Mexico State Police. The search will continue until all resources and leads are exhausted. When updated information is available, it will be disseminated.