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Police search for missing elderly man

BARSTOW • Police are searching for an elderly man labeled a “critical missing person” after he failed to return home Tuesday from a planned hunting trip in the desert.

Paul Nies, 73, told his wife he planned to go coyote hunting in the desert Tuesday before she left for work that morning, said Barstow Police Det. Keith Libby. When she returned home at 2:30 p.m., Nies and his pickup truck were gone. She told police Nies sometimes went on hunting trips alone, but he told her he would return that night.

Police have made searching for Nies a priority as the man has medical conditions requiring daily medication and dialysis three times a week. The search is even more urgent as Southern California experiences a record-breaking heat wave where temperatures were expected to reach as high as 113 degrees in parts of the desert.

“The man’s in his 70s and has a medical condition, not only that but a serious medical condition. That combined with the heat, that’s not a good combination,” Sgt. Andy Espinoza Sr. said.

Police detectives organized searches, employing helicopters from the California Highway Patrol and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department as well as aerial searches by the Sheriff’s Civilian Volunteer Aero Squadron. Police detectives also searched for Nies on off-highway vehicles.

Officers said they won’t likely deploy a ground search and rescue team until they locate Nies’ truck, which will narrow down the search area, Libby said.

“The only way we’re going to find him is if we find that truck,” Espinoza said to a room of Sheriff’s deputies and police officers during a Thursday afternoon briefing on the search. At that point, officers were unable to locate Nies’ truck during numerous aerial searches to areas Nies might be in.

Nies told his wife he would be hunting in the desert areas of Box Canyon, Ord Mountain or Cane Wash near Fort Cady Road. Friends of Nies told police he could also be visiting Black Mountain.

Police attempted to locate Nies using GPS coordinates for his cell phone, but were unable to track him as his phone was turned off.

He was driving a black 4-door 2008 Toyota Tacoma with a California Disabled Person license plate number 9535SDP.

Anyone with information about Nies’ whereabouts is urged to contact the Barstow Police Department at (760) 256-2211 or call 911 if necessary.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or klucia@desertdispatch.com


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