Outdoor World

Now You Can Help Search For Missing Seattle Hiker Samantha Sayers

A Washington state drone pilot is putting a new twisting on missing person huntings by asking volunteers to examine images that may offer digital evidence of a hiker who vanished four weeks ago today.

Steve Monchak, owner of PNW Dronetography in Darrington, Washington, is utilizing a Phantom 4 Pro to survey the mountainous terrain of the North Cascades in an attempt to locate Samantha “Sam” Sayers.

The challenge, until very recently, was meeting enough workforce to scour thousands of images that could comprise evidences to the whereabouts of the 28 -year-old woman, who was last seen on Vesper Peak in Snohomish County on Aug. 1. The solution: Crowdsourcing an army of volunteers online to examine each pixel in Monchak’s drone images.

“The online facet of this is huge, ” Monchak, 39, told HuffPost. “I couldn’t do it alone. After you look through a couple hundred images, your eyes get pretty tired, so these people are a great assistance. They are acquiring things and apprise us of unusual objects. It only proves “were all going” be taken together on the same project from anywhere.”

The drone allows Monchak to target areas that haven’t been covered by field searchers or would be exceptionally dangerous to explore on foot.

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It’s unclear whether the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which suspended its own scour exertion on Aug. 23, is recognized by the crowdsourcing exertion. The bureau did not respond to a request for a comment on Wednesday.

The project is similar to a crowdsourcing campaign started after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The airplane, which was carrying more than 200 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, vanished on March 8, 2014. It is presumed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean.

More than 2 million people examined satellite images of suspected gate-crash spots captured by Colorado-based satellite operator DigitalGlobe. While it’s been noted that some rubble has rinsed ashore in various places, the plane has already been to be found.

Monchak, a former Army soldier who’s typically incurred in relation to photograph bridals and real estate, said he’s expended nearly 3 weeks surveying the mountain. He estimates he’s covered approximately 23 miles of terrain so far.

“I hike up the mountain and can fly out about 3 to four miles from where I am standing, ” he said. “I is likely to be cover more area in a day than 100 searchers can, and it’s being done without endangering lives. The drone can cover steep faces of the mountain without having to send person in on foot, and it was able to examine crevices without having to have someone rope down them.”

The drone recently captured an image of a jacket in a region nearly inaccessible to field searchers. The determine, according to the missing woman’s mother, Lisa Sayers, demonstrates the value of having a remote-controlled eye in the sky.

“When it was spotted, we applied the GPS arranges to transmit people out there to situate it, ” Lisa Sayers told HuffPost. “It did not belong to[ two daughters ], but it shows that our volunteer legion is working.”

Sam Sayers, described by her family and friends as an experienced hiker, set out on the morning of Aug. 1 for a solo hike in the North Cascades. According to the sheriff’s office, a group of hikers reported do with her on her path up Vesper Peak around midmorning. Another hiker told police he saw her the same day at the 6,220 -foot summit and watched her psyche south from there.

Sayers was reported missing after she didn’t show up for a 6 p. m. check-in with her lover. Despite multiple investigations, authorities have found no clues about where Sayers travelled after walking away from Vesper Peak. None of her personal belongings, such as her cellphone or car keys, have been located.

Sayers turned 28 on August 13, approximately 2 week after she disappeared. Her father describes her daughter as a “warrior” who is more than capable of taking care of herself.

“She’s still alive, ” Lisa Sayers said. “I put my confidence and hope in God and all the people praying for ourselves and helping us.”


Instagram Samantha Sayers grown up in Girard, Pennsylvania, a small borough in the Erie metropolitan statistical area. In high school, she was diagnosed with alopecia, an incurable autoimmune disorder that assaults mane follicles, causing hair to fall out.

Monchak, who’s been donating his time to the search job, said he decided to get involved because he wanted to help Sayers’ family. She grew up In Girard, Pennsylvania, and he grew up in a borough not far from there, he said.

According to Monchak, anyone can help examine the images, which are hosted online. New images will be added on a regular basis, he said.

Monchak estimates that volunteers numbering in the hundreds have spent countless unpaid hours looking at the monotone images. He said some volunteers are getting more technical, using photo software to identify specific colorings — namely, items Sayers had with her at the time of her disappearance.

“We know that Sam had gray on and we also know she had some[ brownish-red] on, ” he said. “There is a gentleman from Wings of Mercy on Facebook who has a program that can match up colors. We just determined a red object and I will be flying directly to that next because it has really piqued my interest.”

A HuffPost report about Sayers on Tuesday recalled the story of a 66 -year-old woman who disappeared while hiking along the Appalachian Trail. She had few supplies, yet somehow subsisted at the least 26 days in the desert. Her story and similar narratives pursuit and save teams have shared with Sayers’ family indicate there is a possibility that she could still alive.

“You can’t just disappear, ” Lisa Sayers said. “Until there’s proof otherwise, my daughter is out there and we are going to find her.”

With time of the essence, Monchak said he’s making a 4-mile hike up the mountain on Wednesday afternoon. In addition to getting a closer look at the unknown cherry-red object, he plans to examine crannies for evidences. Like Lisa Sayers, he said he’s not going to give up searching.

“I’m going to continue doing this until she’s noted, ” He said. “We can see a tennis ball from 150 feet up, so if Sam’s out there, we will see her.”


Facebook Lisa Sayers, left, and her missing daughter, Sam.

You — the person speaking this story right now — can help find Sam Sayers by volunteering to examine monotone images. Click here for informed on how be started.

Sayers’ loved ones are also attempting volunteers with experience traversing treacherous terrain. Anyone interested should inspect the Facebook group #findsamsayers or findsamsayers.com.

Samantha Sayers is a 5-foot-8-inch white lady weighing 125 pounds. She was last seen wearing dark grey-haired gasps and a brownish-red hoodie. She had two hiking poles, a blue-blooded backpack, a beige sunshine hat and a dark gray fleece beanie.

Anyone with any knowledge should call the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office at 425 -3 88 -3 808 or 425 -3 88 -3 523.

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