Search continues for two veterinarians missing in Glacier National Park

Despite challenging weather conditions, evidence of hikers keeps hope alive.
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Oct 15, 2012

Two hikers missing in Glacier National Park in Montana have been identified as Virginia veterinarians Neal Peckens, DVM, DACVIM (cardiology), and Jason Hiser, DVM. A search is underway despite challenging weather conditions, according to the National Park Service.

Broad Street Veterinary Hospital administrator der Au Michael says she and the staff who work with Hiser simply feel "helpless. We're just sitting  waiting," she says. The two men, both 32 years old, were reported missing by family members after they failed to return home on their scheduled flight. It is believed the men planned to begin their hike at the North Shore trailhead at the Two Medicine area of Glacier National Park on Oct. 9, camp at the Oldman backcountry campground that night and return to Two Medicine Oct. 10. The National Park Service has reported that rangers found their vehicle late Friday and began a search Saturday morning. Search personnel are battling 18 inches of snow on trails, snow drifts, limited visibility and very windy conditions. Monday's weather did allow for two aerial observation flights.

Michael says both veterinarians are well respected and beloved by patients. "People walk in and start to cry," she says. "The prayer circle just keeps growing."

The National Park Service found a recently used fire ring and tracks in the area of the search Sunday--hopeful evidence that is believed to be related to the missing men. The tracks were found in the Nyack Drainage area on the west side of the continental divide, an area that the park service says includes very dense, steep and treacherous terrain.

Michael says the friends were excited for the hiking trip as neither had been to Glacier National Park before--both are strong and in very good shape. "That's what's going to pull them through," she says. "He's (Hiser's) not scared of anything. he can do anything. He will come out alive and safe."

Peckens practices at Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Associates (CVCA) in Virginia. He earned his veterinary degree from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, according to the CVCA website. The site also states that Peckens’ professional interests include minimally invasive interventional catheterization procedures, canine cardiomyopathies and evidence-based nutraceutical support of cardiac patients. His personal interests include backcountry hiking, playing guitar, cooking and grilling, and playing soccer. He and his wife live in Herndon, Va.

Hiser is an associate veterinarian at Broad Street Veterinary Hospital and also earned his doctorate of veterinary medicine from Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. According to the Broad Street practice website, his veterinary areas of interest include surgery, ophthalmology and dermatology, while his personal interests include cooking, fly fishing, golfing and hiking. Hiser and his wife live in Richmond, Va.

"Now we just hope and pray that they'll be foiund and come home," Michael says.

A fund to raise money for search and rescue efforts can be accessed on youcaring.com or on the Broad Street Veterinary Facebook page. Check back with dvm360.com for updates on the search.