Government shutdown complicates search for missing woman at Idaho national park

Relatives have asked for experienced hikers to help search for 63-year-old Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, who was reported missing along with another woman last month at Craters of the Moon National Monument.

A park official said 16 employees have been placed on furlough as a result of the federal government shutdown over House Republican opposition to funding the Affordable Care Act.

That had severely curtailed search efforts for the Boise woman, the official said, because federal workers are not allowed to volunteer to do their jobs because U.S. law prohibits them from doing work that hasn’t been funded.

"It's pretty much just park staff that are continuing the search," said Ted Stout, the park’s chief of education. "But we're also faced with the government shutdown -- we've been busy with that."

Only three staff members remain on the job at the park monitoring infrastructure resources.

The body of 69-year-old Amy Linkert was found last week. Investigators said she had died from exposure.

The women were both experienced hikers and campers, relatives said. Their dogs, cell phones and other items were found inside their pickup.

[Image via KBOI-TV]