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Aide to Rep. Grijalva found dead in Death Valley National Park

An aide to Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) was found dead on Friday after he and his girlfriend went missing in Death Valley National Park in California.

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement posted to Facebook that 32-year-old Alexander Lofgren and his girlfriend 27-year-old Emily Henkel were located via aerial reconnaissance on a “remote and steep ledge” in the Willow Creek Area of the park. 

-Final Press Release- INYO COUNTY, CA, APRIL 9, 2021, 3:30pm- At approximately 11:40am today Inyo County Search and...

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Posted by Inyo County Sheriff's Office on Thursday, April 8, 2021

Authorities said that Lofgren is deceased, but Henkel was located alive and was flown out for medical treatment.

The cause of Lofgren’s death, as well as Henkel’s condition, are both unclear.

Lofgren was a case worker in Grijalva’s district office. According to The Arizona Republic, he was hired in 2019 as part of the congressman’s Wounded Warrior Fellowship Program.

“The passion he dedicated to his work each day touched countless lives. No matter the situation, Alex met those he helped with a smiling face, a caring heart and unrivaled empathy,” Grijalva said in a statement posted two Twitter.

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The sheriff’s office said it began searching for the couple on Tuesday after it received a report that they had not returned from their trip on April 4. 

Authorities first located their missing white 2018 Subaru Forester on Thursday afternoon at 11 a.m. with a note that read “two flat tires, headed to Mormon Point, have three days’ worth of water.”

The note was a “crucial tip in directing search efforts,” authorities said.

Authorities located the couple on Thursday afternoon, but an attempt to rescue them failed due to “the extreme location” where they were found. Search and Rescue team members were able to successfully rescue them at 11:40 a.m. on Friday.

“This has been a tremendously difficult operation in a very unforgiving geographic area of Inyo County, I sincerely hope for healing and recovery for all involved,” Inyo County Sheriff Jeff Hollowell said in a statement.