The search for Nicole Mittendorff continued to stall on Monday as authorities widened their hunt for the missing firefighter, whose abandoned car was found in Shenandoah National Park over the weekend.
The 31-year-old Virginia woman was reported missing on Friday after family members failed to get in touch with her. The following day, police found her 2009 Mini Cooper in the parking lot of a remote area of the expansive park, leading to a massive search of both air and land.
The search went through the weekend without picking up her trace and resumed on Monday, but there was not yet any sign of Nicole Mittendorff.
“We are holding up as best as can be expected under difficult circumstances,” Mittendorff’s sister, Jennifer Chalmers, told the Washington Post (via Fox News). “At this time we are focused on finding Nicole and have the deepest appreciation for everyone helping. We hope and pray for a safe resolution in the near future.”
Authorities said they do not suspect foul play at this time, and family members hinted that she may have been hiking in the park. A Facebook page dedicated to spreading the word about her disappearance noted that Mittendorff “likes to compete in multi-sport events such as triathlons and regularly runs half marathons [and] can often be found riding and running on trails.”
The page has become a major hub of the efforts to find Nicole Mittendorff, posting regular updates of where the search is going and instructions for volunteers offering their help.
“Please also uplift the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, and all the agencies searching for Nicole,” read an update on Monday. “They embody the shepherds and searchers in Luke 15, looking all over to find and return the lost. Please let them work uninterrupted and if you see a state trooper, police officer, or fire fighter speak kindly and thank them.”
The page has also become popular with the community, with posts generating thousands of shares and many people offering encouragement and prayers for the family as they continue their search. Her husband also left a message asking for followers to continue praying both for the family and for the search crews.
“My deepest gratitude to all those who search for Nicole, are alert for her, and put out the word.” Nicole’s father, Robert Clardy, posted on Sunday afternoon. “Thank you to all who offer comfort to us.”
Friends and family first became worried when Mittendorff failed to show up for her shift changeover at the Merrifield fire station, NBC News reported. It was out of character for Mittendorff, who friends say is otherwise very reliable. After failing to get in touch with her, family members reported her missing.
On Monday, dog teams were brought in the search effort, which authorities said was focused on the trails near where her car was found.
“State police are continuing to concentrate their search operation in the region of White Oak Canyon Trail, where Nicole Mittendorff’s vehicle was discovered,” Corinne Geller, of the Virginia State Police, told Dateline.
Authorities said the search is difficult, covering rocky terrain.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Nicole Mittendorff is asked to call Virginia State Police at (703) 803-0026 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. She is described as 5-foot-6, weighing 125 pounds with short, blonde hair, and green eyes.
[Image via Facebook]