Body found in Nevada may be former region man

2012-03-12T20:30:00Z Body found in Nevada may be former region manBy Lindsay Machak lindsay.machak@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

CEDAR LAKE | Two months after his brother went missing, Garnett Kirk found a glimmer of hope in a Facebook post Saturday.

The post said Las Vegas officials had pulled a body from an area of Nevada's Red Rock National Conservation Area, the place from where his brother, Ron Kirk, was assumed to have been when he disappeared.

Kirk, 44, formerly of Valparaiso, was reported missing after sending a text message to a family member saying he was going hiking Jan. 16.

The coroner told the Kirk family that a body, which could be the missing man, had been retrieved from the rocky terrain.

Garnett Kirk, 33, of Cedar Lake, booked a plane ticket to Las Vegas and was on a 4 a.m. flight Monday anxiously waiting for answers.

"There is a lot of circumstantial evidence to lead us believe that it is Ron," he said.

Ron Kirk's vehicle, a Jeep, was found in the conservation area's parking lot the day after he was reported missing. The coroner told the Kirk family a Jeep key had been found on the retrieved body, Garnett Kirk said.

Las Vegas police said they received a call about 11 a.m Saturday from a hiker who had spotted a body, and a search and rescue team was dispatched to the area, spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said.

Another person, who was nearby, heard the helicopter and saw a coroner's investigator on the scene and posted on Facebook that a body had been found, Garnett Kirk said.

Once the post hit Facebook, Kirk said his phone came alive with calls of people who had been helping in the effort to search for his brother.

"It's amazing. It's unbelievable that Ron had such wonderful people in his life," he said.

An outpouring of support for the Kirk family has been posted on the Facebook page "Find Ron Kirk," on the walls of family members and on an online memorial page.

The Clark County coroner's office could not officially confirm the identity of the man Monday night.

Garnett Kirk was in the process of delivering dental records to coroner's investigators for identification.

He was hopeful the records would verify what he already believes and would allow his family to begin the grieving process.

Ron Kirk was born in Harvey, moved around the south suburbs and Porter County and eventually graduated from Valparaiso High School in 1983, his family said. He served as a Marine for several years and was recently studying at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

He was an avid outdoorsman and loved running and hiking.

"If that's him, then we'll get a 100 percent guarantee that he died doing what he loved," Garnett Kirk said.

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