Rescue turns to recovery as crews retrieve body of BYU hiker
Accident • Report by outdoorsman with spotting scope leads crews to site.
Published: June 6, 2013 01:49PM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:33PM
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Tyler Mayle

Provo • The search for a missing Brigham Young University student and avid hiker became a recovery effort Thursday after Tyler Mayle’s body was found at the bottom of a cliff.

The 22-year-old’s remains were located about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, 65 feet below the rim of a cliff near the popular “Y” Mountain trail system in the hills east of BYU’s Provo campus. Due to the danger posed by the rugged terrain and darkness Wednesday evening, Mayle’s body was secured on the mountain overnight.

Crews used a helicopter Thursday to retrieve Mayle’s remains. After the aircraft landed back near the trailhead about 11 a.m., it took off again about 10 minutes later, reportedly to take the remains to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office, which will determine an official cause of death.

Mayle was a junior at BYU, studying communications and political science. He had most recently worked as a newscaster for BYU Broadcasting.

BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson issued this statement about Mayle: “On behalf of the entire BYU community, we express our sincerest condolences and deepest sympathy to the family of student Tyler Mayle. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this time.”

Provo Fire Battalion Chief Tom Augustus said searchers caught a break when rescue personnel were approached by an area outdoorsman Wednesday afternoon. He thought he may have seen Mayle on Saturday in the area where his body was eventually located — south of the mountain near Eagle Pass.

“He said he was a bow hunter and that he liked to look up on the mountain with his spotting scope after getting home from work. He was doing that Saturday when he said he spotted a guy who he thought had to be [Mayle],” Augustus said.

The man then set up his spotting scope again and focused it on the same area for search officials. As a result, ground units were moved from the east side of “Y” Mountain to the west slope. A few hours later, Mayle’s body was found, partially covered by brush.

“We had been in that area and had helicopters fly over it but did not see anything,” Augustus said.

Provo police Lt. Mathew Siufanua said it appeared Mayle was trying to climb down a cliff just south of the “Y” Mountain trailhead, got stuck and was attempting to go back up when he fell. He said the time of death had not yet been determined.

The accident, Siufanua said, underscored the need for proper preparation for mountain hikes. He said people should stick to paths if they are inexperienced, take food and water, and a charged cellphone.

“One of the best things you can do is plan properly,” Siufanua said. “And to have a good plan, you have to tell someone where you are going.”

There were no reports of Mayle having been depressed before leaving on his hike, dressed in shorts and carrying a hydration water pack. Friends and family described the Windsor, Colo., native as outgoing and an outdoors enthusiast.

“We wanted to find Tyler alive,” Siufanua said. “All of our hopes were he was up there and needed help, and we were going to get to him.”

Mayle’s parents, Gary and Lori Mayle, were on the scene Wednesday, having arrived from Colorado late Tuesday. The family did not plan to comment on the tragic outcome of the search, Siufanua said.

On Wednesday, Gary Mayle had expressed hopes for a positive outcome, noting that his son was an Eagle Scout and had considerable backwoods experience.

In all, some 60 searchers, aided by 10 dogs and a Utah Highway Patrol helicopter, were involved in the search.

— Tribune reporters Donald Meyers and DJ Summers contributed to this story.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims