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Body of hiker found but remains in forest
The body of missing hiker Richard Baird was found yesterday but could not be air-lifted out of the dense Aripo forest.
Soldiers remained at the site last night and a fresh attempt will be mounted today to remove Baird’s body.
After almost three days of intense searches, Baird’s decomposing body was found near the trail where he went missing.
Around 11 am an Aripo resident, who was among members of the search team, found Baird’s body at the bottom of a precipice.
Baird, 55, a computer technician at State-owned energy company Petrotrin, was heading to the Hollis waterfall with a group of 65 other hikers when he got lost.
A National Operations Centre helicopter was unable to airlift the body from the remote location due to the density of the forest.
Police said that the method was selected over hiking through the forest with the body as they wish to preserve it as best as possible for an eventual autopsy. Villagers were ferried by helicopter late yesterday to help clear an area for the aircraft to land.
A team of crime scene investigators were also airlifted to the site and took photographs of the location and the body, as homicide detectives have not received enough information to deem his death an accident.
The helicopter’s first attempt to remove the body yesterday was delayed as the rescue team did not have sufficient rope to facilitate the attempt. Even though the additional length of rope was quickly sourced, it was still not enough to lower a basket to the site due to the topography of the area.
Members of the search and rescue team suggested that Baird may have died shortly after he went missing on Saturday.
In an interview at the assembly point, Baird’s son Kern thanked the members of the protective services and the villagers for their dedication and assistance.
“All I did was leave home and come to the assembly point each morning. People left their jobs and homes each morning to help find somebody they did not know and they did everything possible,” Kern said.
He also stated that he would not give up hope that his father was still alive until he sees his body.
“Even as they found a body I will wait until it is identified. I still have hope and faith,” he said.
Kern said he had suggested to his father to participate in the hike on Saturday.
“To be honest I did encourage him to go when I heard about the hike. He has been hiking longer than I know myself because he introduced me to hiking through Cub Scouts. He was familiar the bush,” Kern said.
Baird, of Rousillac, went missing around 2.15 pm on Saturday. He had reportedly stopped to rest when he went missing. The hiking club members returned to look for him but were unsuccessful.
The persons who participated in the hike are expected to be re-interviewed by police once Baird’s body is recovered.
Superintendent Neville Sankar is coordinating the recovery efforts and police investigation.
His family described him as a frequent hiker but said that it was his first time in Aripo and that he is suffering from a knee injury.