(KTNV) — Searchers in rural Nevada were able to locate a couple from Indianapolis who were missing since March 27, the Esmeralda County Sheriff's Office announced on Wednesday.
72-year-old Ronnie Barker was found deceased. His wife Beverly, 69, was airlifted to a hospital in Reno for medical treatment, 13 Action News has learned.
The couple was traveling in a motorhome from Albany, Oregon to Tucson, Arizona, but were reported missing after they didn't arrive in Tucson.
According to their nephew, Travis Peters, the Barkers' phone last pinged in the Coaldale area, west of Tonopah in Esmeralda County, on March 27.
Shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, sheriff's investigators found the couple's motorhome near Silver Peak, in a remote mountain area approximately 27 miles south of Coaldale, Esmeralda County officials said.
"Due to the remote mountain area where the motorhome was located it took several hours for these teams to reach it," they said.
Search teams that reached the motorhome found that it was stuck, and the Barkers' Kia Soul was no longer with it. Searchers followed the tire tracks and, at approximately 4 p.m., located the Kia about two miles away from the motorhome. With it, they found Ronnie and Beverly Barker.
"It was determined that Ronnie had passed away," officials said, and did not elaborate further on Barker's condition or what might have caused his death.
"Beverly was alive and in good spirits considering what took place," they added.
Investigators called in air support from Fallon to transport Beverly to Renown Medical Center in Reno for treatment.
After searching the Barkers' motorhome, investigators said they determined "foul play was not involved."
"Everyone involved would like to give condolences to the family of Ronnie and Beverly Barker," said Esmeralda County Sheriff Ken Elgan. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during these trying times."
The search for the Barkers was a joint effort from Nye, Esmeralda and Mineral counties as well as Nevada State Police.
The Barkers' nephew has expressed frustration that a statewide Silver Alert was not issued sooner as part of the effort to locate his aunt and uncle. NSP procedures require the missing person to be from the state of Nevada in order to issue a Silver Alert, officials said previously.
A Silver Alert was ultimately issued on Monday after Nevada State Police made an exception in the couple's case. Peters told reporter Kelsey McFarland he thinks that rule should change.
"It flabbergasts me that a state that depends on tourism is not willing to take care of tourists, and that's what it comes down to," he said. "To me, a life is a life. Who cares where they live? It makes no sense to me."
NSP policy states a Silver Alert can only be issued if the missing person lives in the state of Nevada, among other things. In this case, the agency made an exception. But family members are frustrated that policy was ever in place. https://t.co/GhEMhPjNuX— Kelsey McFarland (@KelseyMarie_TV) April 6, 2022
Peters described his aunt and uncle as intelligent, tech-savvy, wonderful people.