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Search for Garrett ends

Volunteers turn up no clear sign in mountains of the lost boy

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Kevin Bardsley, right, hugs a volunteer as he returns from the search for his son, who vanished almost a year ago.

Kevin Bardsley, right, hugs a volunteer as he returns from the search for his son, who vanished almost a year ago.

Ravell Call, Deseret Morning News

HOLIDAY PARK, High Uintas — Hundreds of volunteers on Saturday evening wrapped up the search for a 12-year-old boy who went missing here almost a year ago. There were a few scattered finds of bones and clothes but no clear signs of Garrett Bardsley.

Saturday was the final day of the search organized by the Bardsley family, of Elk Ridge, Utah County, in hopes of finding some trace of their son, who disappeared Aug. 20, 2004, during a church campout.

The bones that turned up during searches Thursday and Friday turned out to be animal bones, and officials said there is no preliminary indication the latest finds will be anything different.

Family members joined the roughly 550 searchers who on Saturday volunteered to canvass the approximately 4-square-mile search area around Holiday Park and near Cuberant Lake, where Garrett Bardsley was last seen. Organizers estimated between 250 and 400 searchers had been involved in the searches Thursday and Friday.

Garrett's parents, Kevin and Heidi Bardsley, left the search area early Saturday evening and did not leave any comments, but throughout the search they have expressed thanks for the hundreds of anonymous volunteers, their love for Garrett and their faith that they will see him again after death.

Garrett's cousins Jacob and Daniel Bardsley, of Mapleton, spent about 10 hours searching Saturday. The family would like to find Garrett's remains, they said, but place more importance on their spiritual beliefs about his fate.

"Even if we don't find him here, we know where Garrett really is, his spirit, and that's what matters," Daniel Bardsley said.

He said that his search group had found three separate groupings of bones they believed could possibly have been from human remains, and those bones have been turned over to the Summit County Sheriff's Office, along with all the shoes, clothing and animal bones that have been found throughout the search but that have yielded no connection to Garrett.

The lake where Garrett Bardsley was last seen has no name. It belongs to a group of six lakes, of which Cuberant is the largest. He had been fishing the morning of Aug. 20 when he got his shoes wet in a stream that feeds the crystal-clear lake.

His father, who was fishing nearby, told Garrett to go change his shoes and socks, which were at camp in a meadow about 120 paces away from the stream.

About 30 minutes later, the search for Garrett began.

It has been previously reported that the camping trip was a Boy Scout activity. But Gary Hansen, the young men's leader of the Salem 8th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said he wanted the boys to have a campout in which they didn't have to worry about merit badges and advancement requirements.

This weekend's search effort is likely to be the last organized search for Garrett.

Volunteer organizers praised the searchers for their commitment, noting that nearly 200 people camped in the area and participated in all three days of the search.

"We had wonderful teams," organizer Steve Griffiths said. "They searched very, very well."

Medical volunteers said they had no reports of serious injuries among the searchers, just a few scrapes and cuts and injured knees.

"We were prepared for the very worst," registered nurse Debbie Wilson said. But the most severe injury she saw involved a searcher who had cut his knee and needed sutures.

E-mail: dsmeath@desnews.com