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post #11 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-15-2009, 05:25 PM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

Welcome to the forum.

Good story. Good warning.

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post #12 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-16-2009, 09:24 AM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

Nice first post, Vinegarroon. And thank you for taking care of the cabin for all these years!

It's sad that 4 people had to die needlessly. Looks like several mistakes led up to it.

I still feel that since Death Valley is a "Park" a lot of tourists don't realize that they are not going to be safe...that there are not going to be park rangers coming up and down the trails checking to see if everyone is ok.

And the vast distances in the desert SW fool people. It often looks like a mountain range is only 1/2 mile or so away and it really can be 5 miles away.

Rule #1 when broken down--stay with the vehicle!

And now we all have the option of getting Spot...well worth it if you go out exploring mostly empty spaces.
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post #13 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-16-2009, 10:55 AM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

It is odd, but what has me curious is how far they actually travelled on foot, and did some sort of foul play come into the situation. There are several active mining claims in that pass, and even in the middle of summer, I have seen tourist heading up towards Barker ranch. It is not a long pass. Did they wander around near stripped butte for a while, before trying to back track? Still many questians left unsolved

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post #14 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-17-2009, 12:55 PM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

Death Valley bones may be missing German tourists
(AP) – November 16, 2009


Here are some excerpts from the newspaper story and what I think may have happened:

They had arrived in the United States earlier in the month and were touring in a Plymouth Voyager minivan rented in Los Angeles.

The minivan would have limited ground clearance for off-road travel. Certainly not the best choice for back country adventures.

An entry in German and dated July 23, 1996, was left in a guest book kept in a box on a metal pole in an abandoned mining camp. It indicated the visitors were going through "the pass" — possibly a reference to Mengel Pass, a dirt trail that crosses the barren Panamint Range, a barren mountain range on the park's southwestern border.

Driving the minivan, they took Warm Springs Road into Butte Valley. As I recall, there is a guest book on a metal pole at the abandoned Talc Mine located at Warm Springs.



On Oct. 23, the locked van was found mired in sand in a ravine off roadless Anvil Spring Canyon, amid rolling hills at an elevation of 3,000 feet and far from usual tourists routes. Three tires were shredded and one had come loose from the rim.

I think they tried to leave Butte Valley via Mengel Pass and realized they couldn’t do it in the minivan. The minivan would not have had adequate ground clearance.



On our first visit to the Geologist’s Cabin, back in the 1970s, we were in the same situation. We were driving a Datsun 2WD truck and simply couldn’t get over Mengel Pass with our limited ground clearance. We had to go all the way back down Warm Springs Road and then through Death Valley to get back home.

Once the German tourists discovered they couldn’t get over “the pass,” the only way out would be the Warm Springs Road route they came in on. They may have gotten confused and started down Anvil Spring Canyon, thinking it was the road back to Warm Springs, or they may have thought they found another way back to Death Valley.



When the minivan became disabled, they must have decided to try getting out on foot over Mengel Pass and down Goler Wash to Panamint Valley.

It’s too bad they just didn’t head back to one of the shelters in Butte Valley. The Geologist’s Cabin, Anderson Camp and Russell Camp were all within walking distance. Each has a year-around water supply provided by natural springs. Additionally, all are stocked with provisions. Visitors usually leave behind some extra canned goods and other items to eat – just in case of such an emergency. At least they could have rested up, maybe had something to eat, and considered what to do. However, given the extreme temperatures in the middle of July, they probably weren’t thinking very clearly.

Had even one of them been able to make it to the Briggs Mine, help would have been available. The mine was active in 1996 and there were a number of employees working there around the clock.



The remains were found southeast of Goler Wash, a rugged area accessible only by 4-wheel-drive vehicles. The area is several miles south of the spot where an abandoned minivan the tourists had rented was found months after they were reported missing.

I am curious about the exact location of the remains. “Southeast of Goler Wash” is somewhat vague. I just estimated, for now, where they might have ended up.

When the investigation is concluded and the results are finally published, we may learn more about what happened to these unfortunate visitors who underestimated the unforgiving desert and paid with their lives.

In the meantime, like they used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Be careful out there!”
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post #15 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-17-2009, 03:07 PM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

Vinegarroon, great information and welcome to the forum.

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.

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post #16 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-17-2009, 06:12 PM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

I found a story on the German tourists from the The Sun, published on July 22, 2006. Embedded in the page is a Photo Gallery link containing ten images.

In late July 1996, a pair of German tourists, VANISHED…
by Chuck Mueller, Staff Writer

Editor's Note: The following is the first part of a two-part series on four German tourists who vanished in the Mojave Desert 10 years ago Sunday.

In late July 1996, a pair of German tourists, VANISHED . . . - San Bernardino County Sun

[Part Two does not appear to be available online.]

I am amazed at the interest in this story. I have found it in publications and on TV news broadcasts from literally all over the world. Predictably, the German news media is all over it.

Even Stars and Stripes, Japan Edition, picked it up under "American Roundup":

Stars and Stripes Japan Edition - 17/11/2009 digital edition

I also found missing person files on Georg Weber, Egbert Rimkus and Cornelia Meyer. This link brings up Weber:

The Doe Network: Case File 2076DMCA

[Click on the other names, Rimkus and Meyer to bring up their pages.]

And here is the official press release from the Inyo County Sheriff:

http://www.inyocounty.us/Sheriff/Pre...ath_Valley.pdf

The sheriff promises to "update the public as conclusive information is discovered."
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post #17 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-18-2009, 12:01 PM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

Danger lurks for visitors in Death Valley National Park

By Henry Brean
Las Vegas Review-Journal
August 09, 2009

Danger lurks for visitors in Death Valley National Park - News - ReviewJournal.com

The first sentence of this story says it all:

"Drop $4 on an extra case of bottled water. Tell a family member where you're going and when you expect to be back."

Unfortunately, another visitor to the back country failed to follow this simple advice.

Also referenced are the German tourists from 1996 -- who were still missing when the story was written.
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post #18 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 06:07 AM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

The essential question which was never asked or answered is:
In which direction did they drive after shredding the first tire?
Nobody will continue westwards down this unkwown Avril Canyon on three tires with an intakt spare wheel inside except this one who intended to hide the car.

And why did the undersheriff not say whether the found bones where from one or more persons?

Ernst-Holger from Saxony where the lost people came from
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post #19 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-19-2009, 07:47 AM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

Idyllwild Man Finds Remains of Missing German Tourists

By Rodney Wardle, News Channel 3 Reporter
[email protected]

Posted: Nov 18, 2009 05:35 PM MST

Only On 3: Idyllwild Man Finds Remains of Missing German Tourists - KESQ.com Palm Springs, Coachella Valley - Weather, News, Sports:

It appears the only remains found were those of Cornelia Meyer and now the FBI is involved.
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post #20 of 37 (permalink) Old 11-24-2009, 04:06 PM
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Re: Unsolved: Missing family in Death Valley

Update from the Idyllwild Town Crier:

Death Valley search postponed

Breaking News: Death Valley search postponed

According to the story, the searchers believed the German tourists were heading toward the China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Area to seek help.

If so, they would have reached the town of Trona first, but would have had to walk a considerable distance and cross a mountain range.

Additionally, Naval test pilots fly training runs up and down Panamint Valley (at very low altitude) on a routine basis.

If the Germans had just been able to arrange some sort of distress signal, one of the pilots could have sent a rescue party. However, getting their attention would have been problematic. Tourists often just stand there and wave at the jets -- and how would a pilot know this indicated trouble?

Had they gone north on Wingate Road, the Briggs Mine -- and help -- was only a few miles away. [see previous post]

But, again, how would they have known that?

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