KIBS/KBOV News reported, for almost a week, on the search for a missing couple, traveling in their 32′ RV through western Nevada. The couple had left Oregon on March 26, heading the Tucson, AZ.
They were last spotted on a gas station camera on March 27 in Stagecoach, NV. A traffic camera in Hawthorne, NV later spotted the rig traveling south on Hwy. 95.
The Nye County Sheriff’s Dept., Esmeralda County Sheriff’s Dept, and the Nevada Highway Patrol started their search mission on Sunday, April 2.
New details have emerged as to the search and the eventual finding of Beverly Barker, 69, of Indianapolis, IN, and her husband Ronnie, 73.
“It’s like they’ve disappeared off the face of the earth. They have vanished, literally, into thin air,” said the couple’s daughter, Jennifer Whaley. “You can see for miles and a 32-foot RV, towing a car, literally vanishes into thin air. Where did they go?” Whaley asked, with her eyes tearing up.
Both of the Barkers have diabetes. The family knew they had enough medicine to go until April 8. There had been no activity on their bank cards since the Stagecoach, NV gas purchase.
Volunteers and police began searching for the Barkers over the weekend, four days after their daughters tried to alert authorities that something was wrong when they didn’t show up in Arizona.
Initially, Nevada law enforcement said they could not issue a “Silver Alert” statewide because the Barkers were not Nevada residents. A Silver Alert used to locate missing and endangered senior citizens, was eventually issued, as well as fliers on social media, and issuing daily updates to area radio stations, including KIBS/KBOV.
Earlier on Tuesday, April 5, search crews found the Barkers’ RV stuck in the mud, but the couple and the SUV they had been towing were not at the scene. The search switched to looking for the missing KIA Soul SUV.
Police say the Barkers were found together later Tuesday, inside the SUV about two miles from their RV. When search crews found them, they say Beverly appeared to be in good spirits. Unfortunately, Ronnie Barker was deceased. He had died the day before the couple was found. Beverly was life-flighted to Renown Hospital in Reno.
The couple was found on a dirt road upon a mountain west of Silver Peak, NV, an old mining town 20 miles south of Hwy. 6 and 30 miles west of Goldfield, NV. at the 4,300′ level (Pop. 142).
Beverly Barker was released from the hospital on Wednesday, April 6. Her family had flown out from Indianapolis, and shared her story.
It’s still unclear how Ronnie Barker died, though dehydration likely was a factor. “As a lot of people suspected, it was bad GPS directions,” said a nephew of the couple.
Their RV got stuck on Sunday, March 27. After staying a night in their motor home, the couple got up the next day and drove for help in the SUV. But after another wrong turn, the KIA got stuck too. The couple was stranded with no water, no food and still no cell service.
Beverly’s family said she is not very mobile, but made repeated trips up a hill to where she spotted snow in the shadows of rocks. Using a walker, she filled sacks with the snow to try to gather water for the couple to drink.
Temperatures dropped into the 20s at night. As they huddled to try to keep warm, Ronnie’s condition weakened. As time progressed, Ronnie, who was a very devout Christian, saw figures from the Bible and took comfort in that.
As the days and the nights passed, Ronnie told his wife he was dying. They knew it was dehydration. Ronnie would ask Beverly to read the Bible.
After search crews found their RV. They tried to follow the tracks left by the KIA but kept losing them. A short time later, however, a rescuer heard a car horn. It was Beverly, honking out “SOS” in Morse code, just as Ronnie taught her during the week.
“The family of Ronnie and Beverly Barker wish to thank those who participated in the search and rescue operations to locate our beloved family members. The outpouring of support was nothing short of incredible by the members of the local community. Our hearts are full because of the efforts that were put forth to help us bring Ron and Bev back home again to Indiana,” read an official statement from the family.
A Go Fund Me account has been established with currently $13,037 in donations.
The family also called upon Nevada to change its policy regarding the issuance of public safety alerts, which will allow for a more expeditious approach to locating missing persons of all ages for both non-residents and residents of the state of Nevada.
(The Mineral County Independent News, Indianapolis Star newspaper, WTHR NBC Channel 13, Radio Goldfield 89.1, contributed to this story.)