Eric Fernandes update: Search called off for missing hiker on Camelback

PHOENIX - The search for a missing hiker on Camelback Mountain was called off on its second full day, as no new leads were developed and hope continued to fade.

Eric Fernandes of Washington was last seen on Saturday when he told his father he was going for a hike and never returned.

It was late Sunday afternoon when the 23-year-old's father contacted police after they realized his car was still at the trailhead.

The brutal heat has hampered search efforts on the mountain, even forcing officials to end early on Monday afternoon.

Ground crews with helicopter support were joined by volunteers on Tuesday, but at 11:30 a.m., Phoenix police said the search has officially been called off. Officials cited growing danger to resources and crews, combined with no new leads in the search.

"There aren't any of them (search crews) who want to walk away from this mountain under these circumstances. Every single person who is out here is a father or mother as well so we understand and we're not about to argue with the Fernandes' family in any way shape or form," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump.

Police earlier expressed concern about the number of volunteers who may be putting themselves in danger by trying to help. Several groups went up Tuesday morning, and there were some people who could be seen clearly off trail.  

Police do not recommend anyone go to the top during the triple digits, and also warn of the dangers of going off trail at any time.

"It is steep and slippery off the trail," said Mark Cosmas, an experienced hiker who spent most of the morning checking areas along one side of the mountain. "It is not meant for just anyone to go up there. It can be nasty."

Cosmas said a friend of his hiking on Saturday told him she possibly saw Fernandes at the summit.

Fernandes’ family has been on location during most of the search. His two brothers even went to the summit early Tuesday morning.

"Please help us take my son back, to Washington, I just ask, to find him I cannot even think the thoughts that he's been alone in this place for 2 or 3 nights it's just treacherous, I'm pretty sure the mothers out there, the parents out there who know what my husband and I as a family are going through," said Fernandes' mother.

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