Geo-Community Finds Body Of Missing FTF Hunter

It was the one find Arizona geoachers didn’t want to make.

The body of a 79-year-old Cave Creek resident who disappeared while on the trail of a FTF was discovered dead early on Sunday in a ravine south of Carefree Highway, in New River’s Sonoran Desert Preserve, according to the Arizona Republic newspaper.

Chuck Mettille

Charles ‘Chuck’ Mettille, whom authorities speculate may have slipped and fallen, was located by members of the local geo-community who searched the dark desert with flashlights.

On Saturday morning about 10am, he told Ginny, his wife of 37 years, that he was going to pick up just a few caches. “Off he went, and he was gone too long. At 3.15pm I called him and wondered what was up,” she said. He was healthy, prepared for the heat and had a cellphone, but he didn’t answer.

“We knew it was really bad when he wasn’t here for dinner,” said daughter Cheri Garick.

The family rang 911, but Mettille’s granddaughter Desiree Tuey said it was the online geocaching community that came to the rescue, dropping everything in the middle of the night to join the search. “These guys show up. Strangers! And those are the people who found him.”

It is believed Mettille fell not too far off a trail near New River after he was the first to find a cache that now belongs to his family. “In his excitement he may not have been looking or whatever and fell,” said Garick, who was initially angry that Phoenix police wouldn’t launch a missing persons’ investigation.

Sergeant Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman, said: “We take missing-persons matters very seriously. We have criteria we follow because we get 7000 to 9000 missing-persons reports a year … Initially, (the family) did not know where he was, to begin a search.”

Mettille’s car was found before midnight on Saturday, and Garick again called police. Once geocachers found his vehicle, officers worked with them in the search, Thompson said. “It’s a tragedy any time someone goes out to enjoy the mountains and they die. It sounds as though this guy enjoyed his hobby and was in great shape. It’s a tragedy.”

The father of five was found after midnight about 320 metres from his car and about 46m from a trail, said Charles Mahan, a friend who described Mettille as having been very passionate about geocaching. Kraig Neese, a searcher and fellow geocacher, later retrieved the cache Mettille had been searching for, which turned out to be a cannister containing a ball. Also retrieved was the logbook, which Mettille had signed at 11.11am. It has since been adopted by the victim’s family.

“My dad was the first to sign it,” Garick said. “It’s a big deal when you’re the first, because there’s a race. When you’re the first, it’s huge.”

The retired phone company manager had recently moved from his longtime home in Scottsdale to Cave Creek. By early Sunday afternoon, his wife said she had received 63 e-mails praising her husband. “They were saying what a wonderful person he was. He was personable, friendly and outgoing.”

As painful as this is, and as strange as it sounds, those who loved him feel like it’s a very Chuck Mettille way to go. “It’s one heck of a shock to go through a sudden death anytime, but just to know that he went out in a blaze of glory … he would have loved it,” she said.

*A statement issued by Mettille’s family, thanking the Arizona geocaching community and warning players to take care on the trail can be read here.



  1. Larry Butler

    May you Rest In Peace in Geocache Heaven

  2. Cheri Garick

    It was heat exhaustion, not a fall, that killed my father. Please remember to hydrate yourselves and avoid midday summer hikes.

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