Search suspended for missing Waterloo hiker

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Rick Eastep, 32, went missing in California during a hike in early January. Eastep, a University of Waterloo employee and an avid outdoorsman, was completing a 3-day hike on the Lost Coast Trail. This area of the California coast is known for being extremely difficult to hike because of its length and the tides, but Eastep had plenty of experience from hiking the West Coast Trail in British Columbia as well as Algonquin Park. He began on Jan. 3, and was expecting to complete the trail on Jan. 6.

Eastep text messaged his driver on Jan. 7 after sustaining a back injury; however, due to apparent bad service, the message was not received until Jan. 9. Intensive search and rescue efforts led by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office began the same day. The Coast Guard and CAL FIRE were among the eight agencies involved in the land, air, and sea search.

During the time of the search, there were severe storms that would have created conditions unfit for hiking. Extreme winds and towering waves created dangerous surroundings.

A backpack matching a description given by the family was found on the search, along with other backpacking supplies, such as a permit with a route and hiking clothing believed to be linked to Eastep.

The family is hopeful for Eastep’s return after the finding of his backpack. As of Jan. 12, the search has been suspended. There are plans to scour the area for evidence occasionally in the upcoming weeks.

Eastep works for UW as a presentation technologies specialist in the IST department.