Bill Ewasko found?

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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby OtherHand » Sat Feb 19, 2022 8:25 pm

sk43 wrote:In case anyone is interested, here's a link to a podcast that I've been following for some time. This particular episode is about Paul Miller, but at the 26:18 mark, during an interview with George Land (JT Public Information Officer and Community Outreach Ranger), there is a discussion about the continuing search efforts for Bill Ewasko as of Dec 2018.

https://locationsunknown.org/episodes/ep-2-paul-miller-joshua-tree-national-park


I had first heard of Land during the Nguyen/Orbeso case when he said some pretty stupid stuff as a PIO. He was either stupid or being deliberately evasive. I've never heard this podcast until now and it really sounds weaselly. Land says they found Ewasko's car with the doors open and "some equipment" inside. Land makes it sound like Ewasko just abandoned it and maybe hinted of suicide?

Contrast that with what the official case narrative says: "Shortly thereafter, CHP helicopter H-60 arrived. An officer from H-60 gained entry into the vehicle through the passenger side door." The rangers had already examined the vehicle from the outside but clearly couldn't open it, so they had the CHP copter land so one of those guys could get it open.

As a PIO you have an obligation to state the truth. If you can't do that then GTFO.
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby jdclifford » Sun Feb 20, 2022 1:23 pm

The Vanished also had a episode on Paul Miller in November of 2019. Paul Miller's sister was told by a Joshua Tree official that there would be little left of Bill because it had been 8 or 9 years since he went missing, almost giving the impression that his bones would have been nearly reduced to dust or that his final spot would be virtually undetectable. Kind of an odd thing to tell Paul Miller's mournful sister before they located Paul's remains.
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby Perry » Sun Feb 20, 2022 10:05 pm

I think a lesson here and in the Paul Miller case is that it's worth re-searching general areas that have already been searched somewhat. There are tracks from the Nguyen/Orbeso search that followed the Panorama trail. However, they were searching for possible living people, and the distance could have been far enough to not see anything. Does anybody have the exact coordinates?
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby OtherHand » Sun Feb 20, 2022 10:34 pm

Perry wrote:I think a lesson here and in the Paul Miller case is that it's worth re-searching general areas that have already been searched somewhat. There are tracks from the Nguyen/Orbeso search that followed the Panorama trail. However, they were searching for possible living people, and the distance could have been far enough to not see anything. Does anybody have the exact coordinates?


My recollection of the search area for Miller is hazy, so I can't recall if the area he was found in was previously searched. But the area Ewasko ended up in really hadn't been searched much at the time, since it made little sense (failure of imagination, in which I include myself). In 2012 I passed within 350' of the site but never would have considered climbing up to some random rise. Mainly because it was SO far beyond his target and he could have been at the paved road with less effort than he expended to get to where he did.

I've been to the precise site but I'm not going to publicly mention its location because the recovery team did a less than perfect job of cleaning the site. There is "stuff" remaining that would likely be grabbed as souvenirs by people attracted to the true crime style podcasts the case has generated. Out of respect for Bill, I'll keep my mouth shut. If it were high on the slopes of Smithwater that would be one thing, but this location is absurdly easy to get to, less than a maile and a half from pavement. It is within 0.3 miles of three trails, but not directly visible from any, including the Panorama Trail you mentioned. I believe the Panorama Trail was cleared as part of the original search, and the area overflown a few times, but Bill was probably expired by that time. A Reddit posting by the person who claimed to have found the remains (who I believe was legit) said that while scattered, they were mostly clustered inside a small rock ring, and only visible if you came right up to it and looked down.
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby Ric Capucho » Thu Feb 24, 2022 12:28 am

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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby OtherHand » Fri Feb 25, 2022 4:41 pm

So I went back to Ewasko's saddle today. I wanted to go yesterday but there was still enough snow on the ground to make looking for things a challenge. Today, just a few small patches remained in the shade. It will all be gone by tomorrow.

The point of today's exercise was to hike in to the junction of Smithwater and Quail Wash and walk Bill's likely final path. Sort of try to get into what he was thinking and why he chose to go the way he did. It was very educational and I'm still mulling over stuff I noted. There were a couple places where if he had just checked out low saddles to his right, he would have easily escaped the area. So damn close to getting away.

One thing that blew me away was the quality of the backcountry trail markings. Etched metal map plates at all trail junctions, with "You are here" marked, and metal posts with arrows along the trail. In the past the backcountry trails were more like unmarked paths and a real challenge to follow. Now they are marked really well. Judging from the amount of footprints, this enhanced marking/signage has greatly increased the trail use. Not sure how I feel about that. I am confident that had this level of guidance been in place when Bill was there, he would have got out.

I am going to guess that someone from the park reads this website. Because when I arrived this time, the place had been really cleaned up. Some of the stuff left included a flagged bone fragment of bone. However after I scoured the area for a while and found nothing, I'd say they did a good job this time. There's now nothing there. They even attempted to brush away most of the indentations made by the landing of the Huey. But I could still see them because I knew just where to look.

Since the area has now been cleansed and no "souvenirs" remain, I have no qualms about posting the coordinates:

34.062286°, -116.248650°

These coords are for the center of the saddle. I'm not sure of Bill's true position on the saddle, but it's a small area. I'm certain he climbed to the saddle out of the wash to the west and south of the spot, due to the presence of some personal stuff down that slope which has now been removed. But it provided his direction of travel.

Here are some pics of the site:

A general view of the saddle with my red pack in the center. The copter landed just beyond and to the left of my pack.

The view looking back at the way he came in.

A view of the road from the saddle, at the base of the rocky hills. That's only 1.1 miles away.

As I said, this site is VERY accessible. Although I took a very roundabout way to get there, via the mouth of Smithwater, once I left and returned directly to my vehicle on Park Road, it took exactly 30 minutes to get back.

As I was leaving the park, I got a nice taste of the "new" JTNP. On a Friday, late morning, I measured the backup of cars waiting to get into the park at 2/3s of a mile. I don't think I'm going back....
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby bretpct » Fri Feb 25, 2022 10:31 pm

Now that the location is known, it appears Perry and SH44 were the closest to finding Bill, according to my records. They went right over that saddle.

Image

The red dot is Tom's coordinate, the red line next to it is Perry and SH44's 2018 hike. Purple line is the helo transponder track. Blue line is my attempt to find the recovery site a couple weeks ago.

I guess we're just waiting on the coroner to officially identify the remains. Hope to see your debrief and thoughts on otherhand.org Tom.
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby OtherHand » Fri Feb 25, 2022 10:58 pm

bretpct wrote:Now that the location is known, it appears Perry and SH44 were the closest to finding Bill, according to my records. They went right over that saddle.


That's a great example of how easy it is to miss something. You can walk right by them and if you happen to be looking in the wrong direction at that moment....oh well. That was always my fear regarding Bill, that we passed within 50' but just didn't notice. Somehow I feel better (or at least redeemed) that he ended up in such an off the wall place.

In fairness to Perry, when he crossed the saddle there weren't any out of place footprints, nor helo skid marks to draw attention. Per the posting on Reddit by Bill's finder, most of the remains were inside a small stone circle, and situated so you'd almost have to look down into it to see the remains. One of my things to do today was locate that spot, and while there were several areas of circular stones I didn't see any with the ground disturbed inside, which I'd expect.
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby jdclifford » Sat Feb 26, 2022 12:12 pm

Tom, thanks for taking and posting those pictures. I tried to locate good pictures of that area to get a better sense of where he ended up but failed. You are absolutely correct in stating how remarkable it is for its unremarkability. I probably won't get over there within the next couple of years, but a cold weather off-season backpacking trip in JT could be in my future. I'll have to check it out in person then. I was solely driven there to search, but I had too many great times in solitude with nature to put it in my rear-view mirror forever.

The conclusion of this case, as well as reading The Devil's Highway, has also corrected my experience-wrought bias about traveling uphill. I simply couldn't conceive of it in the more extreme conditions Bill was faced with. I could see him going up Quail...just not going downhill and then going up again.
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Re: Bill Ewasko found?

Postby Hikin_Jim » Sat Feb 26, 2022 2:27 pm

Interesting that they cleaned up the site -- including the skid marks. The bone fragment I understand, but the skid marks? Perhaps they just wish to avoid souvenir hunters.

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