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Search enters day 3 for 75-year-old hiker

Posted: Monday, Nov 5th, 2012

APTOS — A major search operation is under way in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park for a 75-year-old Redwood City man who disappeared Sunday morning.

By Monday morning, search and rescue workers for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, deputies, State Parks Rangers and other — a total of 45 — fanned out on foot, horseback, motorcycle, all-terrain vehicles and with trained dogs in hopes of locating George Sliter, a retired nuclear engineer from the Stanford Research Institute who is well-versed in trail hiking.

Deputy April Skalland said Sliter was attending a retreat at the Monte Toyon Camp and Conference Center on Cathedral Drive.

“As far as we know Mr. Sliter had breakfast Sunday morning at Monte Toyon with his church group, and about 9 a.m. he went for a hike. His car has been parked here ever since,” Skalland said.

Witnesses said they spotted Sliter about 90 minutes later a mile away in the Vienna Woods area on Mesa Grande Road. Skalland said Sliter asked the witnesses for directions back to Monte Toyon and that was the last sighting anyone had of him.

Searchers in organized groups used six search dogs, motorcycles, ATVs and a helicopter to scour the rugged terrain.

David Vallerga, a long-time friend of Sliter, showed up about 10 a.m. Monday at Monte Toyon, which is nestled deep in the redwood forest.

“George is in great shape,” he said, “and practices yoga. He’s a regular hiker and definitely upbeat. He was really excited about this retreat with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Redwood City. I saw nothing but positive signs in his behavior.”

By 5 p.m. Monday as darkness fell, Skalland said there were no signs of Sliter.

“With the horses and extra volunteers we are now up to about 70 people on the search,” she said.

Sliter is described at 5 feet 11 inches, 195 pounds, with blue eyes and gray hair. He was last seen wearing blue sweatpants with a blue shirt.

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