Search for Joseph Balderas called off after nine days
After nine days of searching around the clock with no result, the organized search for missing Nome hiker and runner Joseph Balderas officially ended on Wednesday, July 6. The extensive effort centered around Balderas’s truck, found at mile 44 of the Nome-Council Highway. The search was one of the most extensive in Nome’s recent history and included several agencies and helicopters, fixed wing airplanes, all-terrain vehicles and volunteers with boots on the ground. When no sign whatsoever was found, one by one, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Alaska State Troopers and finally Nome Search and Rescue volunteers ended their active efforts.
The Facebook page Finding Joseph kept Balderas’s friends and family updated on the search, and raised awareness for the crowd funding account of the same name. Emotional support poured in through the social media account, and monetary support came through the YouCaring site. The account generated nearly $40,000, about $10,000 above their goal. The donations helped to provide extended helicopter support to continue the search.
Family and friends of the 36-year-old west Texas native flew in from around the country and aided in the search along with many Nome residents. However, though those close to Balderas gave up their time, energy and sleep for nine days, the search did not reveal any clues, answers or closure for those close to Balderas.
Though the organized effort is over, a few are still physically looking and even more are metaphorically searching for answers. A post on the Finding Joseph Facbook page from July 6 summed up the disappointing results of the search: “Although the organized efforts have ended, many of Joseph's friends and family will never stop searching. On every run, every fishing trip, every hike through the mountains, their eyes, ears, and hearts will be open, looking for signs of Joseph. Someday, they will find him.”
Trooper Spokesperson Megan Peters said that, after active SAR efforts were called off, Balderas’s case became an open missing persons case. SAR does not resume the search unless remains are discovered or new evidence comes to light that would redirect searchers to another location.