Authorities from Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park banned and fined a woman for providing false information regarding a missing hiker. Heather Mycoskie, 40, a Utah resident formerly of Jackson, Wyo., allegedly provided a detailed but entirely fabricated description of a missing hiker’s whereabouts. Mycoskie apparently hoped the false information would encourage rescue teams to continue searching. She faces a $17,600 fine and a five year ban from the park.
The hiker, Cian McLaughlin, went missing on June 8, 2021.
Mycoskie told authorities that she had seen and spoken to McLaughlin in a very specific portion of the park on the afternoon of his disappearance. She gave details like that he had intended to jump from his favorite rock at Taggart Lake, according to USA today.
In a recent news release from the park, officials said that Mycoskie lied about the sighting. Their investigation, which involved nearly a years’ worth of witness interviews, concluded that the woman “never say anyone matching McLaughlin’s description” whatsoever.
Park officials estimate that the bad information wasted about 530 hours of their time between searching, managing the search, and writing reports.
“This wasted valuable time that could have been focused on searching areas of higher probability. And it cost the Federal Government approximately $17,600,” the NPS stated. The NPS also added that all other potential sightings of the missing hiker took place in a completely different trail network.
One of those different networks included the Delta Lake portion of the park. In September 2021, authorities then discovered that McLaughlin had been searching “Delta Lake” on a computer. Mycoskie told rangers she spoke to him near the Bradley-Taggart moraine. Rescuers will continue to search for McLaughlin through the summer near Delta Lake, Garnet Canyon, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes.
McLaughlin, the missing hiker, hails from Ireland originally
What makes the case even stranger is that authorities cannot determine if McLaughlin even knew Mycoskie. McLaughlin’s mother, Gráinne McLaughlin, told The Associated Press she was not aware of any connection between the two.
McLaughlin was a dual Irish-U.S. citizen. In 2019 he moved to Jackson Hole, where he worked as a bartender and then a snowboard instructor, according to his mother.
McLaughlin spent the majority of his life in Ireland; but his father hailed from Montana, and Cian lived there for several years as a child. He maintained a “close connection with the States and the mountains in particular,” his mother said.
“Cian was an incredible person, full of ‘joi de Vive’ and we miss him dearly,” Gráinne McLaughlin also said.
Mycoskie, formerly of Jackson Hole, recently moved to Costa Rica. She was previously married to TOMS Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, who sold his Jackson home in November.