Advertisement
  1. News

Search continues for Treasure Island man missing in Grand Canyon

Floyd Roberts, 52, a high school teacher in Tampa and a Treasure Island resident, was reported missing on Saturday during a hike with his best friend in the Grand Canyon. Roberts was equipped with 2 gallons of water, food and a map.
Floyd Roberts, 52, a high school teacher in Tampa and a Treasure Island resident, was reported missing on Saturday during a hike with his best friend in the Grand Canyon. Roberts was equipped with 2 gallons of water, food and a map.
Published Jun. 22, 2016

When Ned Bryant first saw the Grand Canyon, he fell in love.

He told his best friend, Floyd Roberts, they were going to hike it together.

So about a year later in 1992, they did. And they kept taking trips. Sometimes Bryant would go without his friend, but for two decades, Roberts has been his regular hiking buddy.

On Friday they set out together, along with Bryant's daughter Madeleine Bryant, for another trip through the canyon.

But Roberts, a high school teacher in Tampa and a Treasure Island resident, has been missing since late Friday afternoon. It was Day 1 of a multiday hike.

Ned Bryant was first able to report Roberts, 52, missing to the National Park Service on Saturday.

"I am very worried," Bryant wrote to his wife, Heidi Bryant, on Facebook. "Everything was going perfectly until the split. Helicopters all afternoon couldn't find him."

Heidi Bryant said her husband's cell service is spotty, but she knows the basics of what happened.

Before they reached the trailhead, the Bryants and Roberts reached a hill. They decided to take different routes. Ned Bryant and his daughter went up and over, Heidi Bryant said, and Roberts "contoured around the hill."

Heidi Bryant said her daughter and husband are avid Grand Canyon hikers. Both are board members of the Grand Canyon Hikers and Backpackers Association. Although Roberts hadn't been hiking for a few years, he is still an experienced hiker, she said.

The trio went on a similar hike in 2011. Pictures show the three scaling rocks with smiles. Heidi Bryant and her husband live in Minnesota and their daughter in Arizona.

The two friends met when they were about 10 years old in Princeton, N.J., Heidi Bryant said. Roberts was the best man at the couple's wedding.

He went on to live in Huntsville, Ala., where he worked for NASA, she said. Now he teaches computer programming and game design at Middleton High School.

He has lived in Treasure Island, right by the beach, for years.

A National Park Service release said he was reported missing on Saturday at 3 p.m. and was last seen near Kelly Tanks in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument.

The group planned to spend the first couple of days camped alongside the river. They anticipated they would emerge back into civilization on June 26.

When Ned Bryant and his daughter reached the other side of the hill, they waited for Roberts. They got anxious and started looking for him. They retraced theirs steps; they went back to the road.

They even laid their colorful sleeping bags over trees to make camp easier to spot.

By morning, still no Roberts.

The father and daughter made their way to an area with cell service and reported Roberts missing to the National Park Service, which was continuing its search on Tuesday.

The last update Heidi Bryant heard on Monday night was that there were plans to bring in a dog that could sniff Roberts out. Searchers also planned to head down a trail where they spotted what could be footprints.

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines

Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter

We’ll deliver the latest news and information you need to know every weekday morning.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Madeleine and Ned Bryant remain on the canyon's rim, she said, trying to help in any way they can.

Roberts was last equipped with 2 gallons of water, a week's worth of food, and a map created by Ned Bryant of their planned route. The map also includes information about terrain.

Temperatures in the Grand Canyon National Park were reported to be about 92 degrees Tuesday afternoon.

Ned Bryant told his wife at least 15 people, including rangers and experienced hikers, were searching for his friend.

"All I can do is wait for the call," said Heidi Bryant.

She last heard from her husband 17 hours ago, she said Tuesday around 3 p.m.

She said it wouldn't make sense for him to take the hour drive from the command center to get cell service just to tell her there's no news.

She's holding out hope good news will come.

Anyone with information about Roberts can call the National Park Service (928) 638-7300.

Senior Times researcher John Martin contributed to this story. Contact Sara DiNatale at sdinatale@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8862. Follow @sara_dinatale.