The government shutdown has certainly affected many areas of life for citizens and government employees, but in Idaho, the shutdown is hurting a family in a unique way. The search for Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, who went missing in the Craters of the Moon National Monument Park, has been significantly hampered by the lack of government employees to help with the search.
The 63-year-old doctor went hiking and camping with friend Amelia Linkert on September 21. Authorities began searching when the two failed to return home after the trip, and they discovered Linkert's body four days later. Their car was also found with their purses, cellphones and dogs inside… but no sign of Blakeslee.
When the government shut down, things changed dramatically. Sixteen of the 19 employees were forced to go on furlough. Only three remained, to keep the Monument running safely, but it's unknown whether they will be paid for their work. Thankfully, though, 10 unpaid rangers have volunteered to help carry on with the search.
"The shutdown has certainly complicated things, and we're all on non-pay status at this point," Ted Stout, chief of interpretation and education at the monument, told Fox News. "There are a lot of questions as to how this all works, questions as to whether or not we'll be paid… It's another complicating factor."
Blakeslee's family has continued to call for volunteers to help search for their loved one. They have started a Facebook page to help bring awareness to her status and hopefully recruit people to search whenever possible.
"We realize the chance of Dr. Jo surviving in temperatures that have dipped below freezing are slim," a statement by the family said. "However, we are not ruling out the outside chance that she has found shelter in a cave or under vegetation. Either way, we are committed to bringing her home and are actively recruiting volunteers with backcountry experience to keep the search going."