Body found on mountain ID'd as missing hiker - CBS 5 - KPHO

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Body found on mountain ID'd as missing hiker

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Eric Fernandes, 23, was visiting family in the Phoenix area and was last seen Saturday having lunch with his father before a hike on Camelback Mountain. (Source: Phoenix Police Department) Eric Fernandes, 23, was visiting family in the Phoenix area and was last seen Saturday having lunch with his father before a hike on Camelback Mountain. (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
A Phoenix police helicopter helps look for missing hiker Eric Fernandes on Monday morning. (Source: CBS 5 News) A Phoenix police helicopter helps look for missing hiker Eric Fernandes on Monday morning. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -

The Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed the body found on the south side of Camelback Mountain late Tuesday afternoon is a missing hiker from Washington.

Maricopa County officials said the Medical Examiner's Office used dental records to identify the body as that of 23-year-old Eric Fernandes. They said the cause and manner of his death are pending.

Eric Fernandes, of Seattle, was last seen leaving for a hike on the mountain on Saturday.

Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said a group of volunteer hikers had spotted a body about 200 feet off the southside of Camelback Mountain late Tuesday afternoon, hours after police and technical crews had officially ended their search for Eric Fernandes.

"We look for drop offs or dangerous areas, places that are sort of hidden that we know about, or something someone might go to seek shelter," said John Clever, one of the volunteer hikers.

They focused on an area one of their members had a gut feeling about. Three hours into their search Tuesday, the hikers got close enough to the steep, rocky area and saw what they feared.

"We were hoping for something a little different, a lot different," Clever said.

"It's not something we want to experience, but for the parents of this person, we find it necessary to take extra extreme measures," said Francesa, who asked that we not reveal her last name. She is the member whose gut feeling led them to that area.

"It's very, very rough terrain," said Phoenix fire Capt. Tony Mure. "People don't hike in this area." 

The Echo Canyon Trailhead was closed for much of the Tuesday afternoon.

About 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Fernandes' family was told police were ending the search for their son.

The family, which said it was financially strapped, issued a plea to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to continue the search for their son.

A search dog, Eric Fernandes' two brothers, volunteers and others took part in the efforts to locate him.

Eric Fernandes and his father were visiting a friend of Eric's who had moved to Phoenix about eight months ago.

Eric Fernandes was last seen in Phoenix on Saturday having lunch with his father, Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos said.

Eric Fernandes indicated he was going to take a hike Saturday before returning to Seattle on Sunday morning, Martos said.

When he didn't return Saturday, his father and a friend, Ryan, who didn't want to give his last name, called park rangers at the Echo Canyon parking lot Sunday and were told Eric Fernandes' car, which was locked, was there, Martos said.

Martos said he was not aware that Fernandes suffered from any medical condition and that no foul play was expected.

Ryan said he met Eric Fernandes while playing an online war game a few years ago, and that the Fernandes' arrived in Phoenix on Wednesday.

Ryan and Max Fernandes said they assumed Eric Fernandes was with the other person until about 1 p.m., when Max Fernandes left his hotel and went to Ryan's house looking for Eric Fernandes.

Ryan said Eric Fernandes refused to take a cooler with him on the hike, but later found receipts in the car for a hydration backpack he purchased from a Fry's Supermarket near 35th Avenue and Peoria, where Eric Fernandes was seen on a surveillance camera.

Police have said they do not believe there was foul play.

Stay with cbs5az.com and CBS 5 News as this story develops.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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