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Search for missing Minnesotan called off

Associated Press

ST. PAUL -- The search for a Minnesota man who went missing after going on a solo hike in Idaho has been called off.

Jon Francis, 24, told co-workers at a Bible camp near Ketchum that he planned to go for a hike up Grand Mogul in the Sawtooth Mountains on Saturday.

But Francis didn't return when he said he would, and authorities started aerial and ground searches for him.

Police say Francis' car was found in a parking area, where he boarded a shuttle to the spot where he began his hike. But no one has reported seeing him since then.

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Authorities said in a statement released Wednesday that they determined Francis had reached the summit Saturday, but human and dog search teams found no sign of him on two descents from the top of Grand Mogul.

The Custer County sheriff's office said the terrain was extremely rugged. For example, when Francis' family was in an airplane over the area, they were unable to spot the many search parties below, authorities said.

The sheriff's office called off the search Tuesday evening. Its statement said the search went as far as possible with the resources available.

Francis is a Stillwater native. His father, David Francis, is a Democratic candidate for the state Senate seat being vacated by Republican Michele Bachmann, who's running for the U.S. House.

The Rev. Jerry Doherty of Stillwater's Episcopal Church of the Ascension described Jon Francis as a great outdoorsman. Doherty said he and Francis had gone on many camping trips to the sprawling Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northern Minnesota.

"He knows what to do when he's lost, ... and he's as equipped as anyone could be," Doherty said.

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