Cincinnati teen missing at Grand Teton National Park found safe

Park Service says she changed her appearance
Posted at 9:36 AM, Aug 05, 2016

CINCINNATI -- More than 100 volunteers spent two days searching Grand Teton National Park for Fauna Jackson.

New details emerged over the weekend indicating that, perhaps, she didn't want to be found.

Jackson, a sophomore at Clark Montessori High School in Cincinnati's Hyde Park neighborhood, was safe Saturday morning, taken to a hospital in Wyoming for a welfare check.

She is now in protective custody and will be reunited with her parents, who are traveling to Teton County to meet her, the Associated Press reported.

The 16-year-old had been with a service group working in the park when she vanished at about 8:45 a.m. Thursday. Coworkers said she didn't return from a bathroom break.

Tanner Yess was one of the leaders with Groundwork USA, the group Jackson was working with. The searched the area, shouting for Jackson until they were too tired.

"Me and all the group leaders internally were panicking, but externally we were doing all the right things," he said.

Dozens of searchers joined the effort but only found one of her boots, which authorities said she wasn't even wearing at the time of her disappearance; instead, it may have been in her backpack.

Fauna Jackson

While Jackson was still missing, the rest of the group finished their trip and had to come home.

"It felt like the opposite thing that we should be doing," Yess said. "But, of course I had to bring our other youth home because their parents were worried, so that's what we had to do."

On Friday night, dispatchers got a report she may have been spotted. Park law enforcement rangers and sheriff's officials eventually found her at about 8 a.m. Saturday three to four miles from where she vanished.

Jackson was uninjured. But she didn't look exactly the same, either: She'd cut and dyed her hair and changed her clothing, according to the National Park Service, and she fled when law enforcement officials approached her.

The incident is under investigation.

Organizers canceled a vigil planned for Saturday night in Cincinnati's Ault Park.

Before her two-day disappearance, Jackson had been doing work with Groundwork USA, which assists the National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency and local groups across the country to improve the environment. The group had a crew of about 20 members working on a trail reroute project in the park, officials said. The crew was supervised by National Park Service rangers and Groundwork staff.

Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek Executive Director Robin Corathers said Jackson had worked with the group's "green team" for an eight-week project in Northside. Because of Jackson's "outstanding contribution," she was one of three Cincinnati youths picked for the trip to Grand Teton, Corathers said.

"She's a delight to be around," Corathers said of Jackson. "She got along very well with her peers. She did outstanding work for us the eight week period. And she showed a lot of leadership potential."


Alan Edwards, also with Groundwork Cincinnati - Mill Creek, called Jackson "a great individual" who "will befriend anyone."

"She's very strong minded, very smart, able to handle all the tasks we had over the course of the summer -- trail-building, invasive removal, restoration work," Edwards said. "Honestly, one of the best employees we had and that's why she got to go."