Flagstaff man goes missing during day hike in Oak Creek Canyon

May 31, 2022, 2:00 PM
Axel Brugere was last seen hiking in Oak Creek Canyon on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Photos via Coconino...
Axel Brugere was last seen hiking in Oak Creek Canyon on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Photos via Coconino County Sheriff’s Office)
(Photos via Coconino County Sheriff’s Office)

PHOENIX – Search and rescue crews are trying to find a Flagstaff man who went missing during a day hike in Oak Creek Canyon last week, authorities said Tuesday.

Axel Brugere, 20, was last seen Friday around 1 p.m. after he and a companion hiked for about two hours up the steep A.B. Young Trail to a plateau, according to the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office.

The U.S. Forest Service rates the hike, which ends at the East Pocket Fire Lookout Tower, as “very strenuous.”

The other man, John Piekarz, lost contact with Brugere after exploring the area on his own for about 30 minutes, authorities said.

Piekarz assumed Brugere had gone back down the trail. Piekarz tried to do the same but got lost along the way and wound up near Slide Rock State Park, about 2 miles south of the A.B. Young Trailhead at the Bootlegger Picnic Area.

When Piekarz finally got back to the trailhead around 11 p.m., Brugere wasn’t there but the vehicle they’d arrived in was.

Piekarz didn’t have a phone or car keys, so he slept in the restroom building before getting a ride back to Flagstaff in the morning. He called the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office to report Brugere missing around 9 a.m. Saturday, and the search efforts were launched soon after.

Brugere is 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 140 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes.

Anybody with information about his whereabouts was asked to call the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office at ‭928-774-4523‬ or Flagstaff Silent Witness 928-774-6111.

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Flagstaff man goes missing during day hike in Oak Creek Canyon