Missing Indiana couple heading to Arizona found; husband dead, wife alive

An Indiana couple missing for about a week has been found in a remote mountain area of southern Nevada, but the husband was dead and the wife was taken to a hospital, a sheriff’s official said.

Ronnie Barker, 72, and Beverly Barker, 69, were found with their car late Tuesday afternoon in the Silver Peak area of Esmeralda County, Mineral County Undersheriff Bill Ferguson said in an email.

Rescue personnel from Mineral County, one of several counties involved in the search, located the couple, and a military helicopter airlifted the woman to a Reno hospital, Ferguson said.

Family members who reported the Barkers missing have said on numerous social media posts they left on a cross-country trip last month and were expected to return this week to their home in Indianapolis. They said the couple departed Albany, Oregon, on March 27 and planned to meet with friends in Tucson, Arizona, on March 29.

The couple had been towing their car with an RV that officials said earlier Tuesday had been found stuck in a ditch.

Silver Peak is 177 miles (285 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas.

Ferguson said the volunteer searchers found the couple and their car in forested mountains about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the RV, and it wasn’t clear why or how the Bakers ended up where they did.

"It was just one bad decision after another," he said. "I’m not sure what took them off course. They got the motor home stuck and then unfortunately they got the car stuck."

Ferguson said the couple had video that indicated they were in the Silver Peak area since March 27, but he said he didn’t have information on when Ronnie Barker died or the cause of his death.

Beverly Barker melted snow for water and the car provided shelter from temperatures that dipped into the 30s (1.1 below zero C) at night, he said. "She would get out and go for little walks."

She was in good condition, but authorities opted because of rough roads in the area to have her airlifted to a Reno hospital to be checked out, Ferguson said.

Travis Peters, a nephew of the couple, told KVVU-TV in Las Vegas that Ronnie Barker’s death was a blow to the family.

"Ronnie no longer being alive in this family is a hole, and its never going to be filled … he’s just a bigger-than-life personality," Peters said.

Peters said it was unclear what happened to the couple.

"Thank God that Beverly is alive, because she will be able to fill in those blanks that we don’t know. Why did they go up the mountain? What happened?" Peters said. "She’s going to be able to tell us."

Ronnie and Beverly Barker

Ronnie and Beverly Barker (Credit: Nye County Sheriff's Office)

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