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Hiker Found In Marin Wilderness; Palo Alto Couple's Disappearance Still A Mystery

INVERNESS (CBS SF) -- While the whereabouts of a Palo Alto couple who vanished from their Inverness vacation rental remained a mystery early Wednesday, search teams were able to locate a missing hiker who was found alive and transported to a local hospital.

Robert Bennett, 76, was located by a pair of tracking dogs and their team late Tuesday night near Big Rock Ridge in Marinwood and was extricated late Tuesday night, according to a tweet at 11:26 p.m. by the sheriff's office.

"Robert Bennett has been transported to a local hospital where he is with his family. His condition is unknown at this time," the social media post read. "He was located by K-9 Luna, with the assistance of K-9 Zinka after an extensive search effort this evening. Thank you to all the agencies who assisted."

missing marin hiker robert bennett marin county sheriff photo
Robert Bennett. (Marin County Sheriff)

Marin County Sheriff's Sgt. Brendan Schneider said Bennett was located by two search dogs "in extreme terrain."

"Around 10:30 p.m. we were notified by one of our K-9 teams that they had located Robert," Schneider said. "The information we were given that Robert was located off the trail...Two dogs located him."

A medical team was rushed to the scene and treated Bennett before he was excavated by a four-wheel vehicle and taken to a local hospital.

Bennett had been seen at 1:22 p.m. Monday as he was walking toward Valley Stone Trail Head. His vehicle was located Tuesday near the trail head.

Marin officials said without the two K-9s Luna and Zinka, they may not have found Bennett.

Marin County officials said family members are visiting Bennett at Marin Health Medical Center. No update on his condition has been made by authorities as of late Wednesday morning.

Wednesday morning, volunteers returned to Inverness to continue their search with no sign of the missing couple. Search crews are leaning heavily on the help of K-9 units.

The Marin County Sheriff's Office said efforts were being focused on the water's edge of Tomales Bay near Inverness.

The Marin County Sheriff's dive team launched out of the Inverness Yacht Club early Wednesday, hoping to find some sign of 77-year-old Carol Kiparsky and her 72-year-old husband, Ian Irwin.

Divers searched the rugged waters along the Tomales Bay shoreline using sonar, looking for anything out of place.

"We have searched the water already from the air as well as boat, and now we are going to try to search under the water just in hopes of finding anything, any clues, anything that we can do to help with the search for Carrol and Ian," said Schneider.

But they found nothing. The Command Post has been dismantled. The street in front, once filled with emergency vehicles, is now open.

The Communication Room is locked; however, Sgt. Schneider says the search continues.

The couple was last seen Friday afternoon in Inverness where they were renting a cottage on Via de la Vista. The couple was supposed to check out Saturday morning, but never materialized. K-9s and drones continue to cover some of the toughest terrain in the area Wednesday.

"Speaking with the Detectives, I know they've looked at financial records, they've trying to look at cell phone history and electronics that were left in the house," explained Schneider.

Property manager Sarah Eubank-Abrams was the first person to discover that the couple was missing when she entered their room last Saturday.

"Something was off because it didn't look like they'd packed at all. And it looked like there was a bite out of a pretzel, and there was still mustard on part of it and it was put back down on the plate," Eubank-Abrams said.

Missing Palo Alto couple
Missing Palo Alto couple Carol Kiparsky and Ian Irwin (CBS)

Anne Goldsmith is one of the many volunteers who is out here with her human remains detection dog Roxie, a certified cadaver and water K-9.

"When the body breaks down, everyone decays, for the most part, the same," explained Goldsmith.

She says as a water dog, Roxie will be able to help search the waters of Tomales Bay.

"The county sheriff department will be able to get sonar and they have a smaller robot that can go into the water," said Goldsmith.

Authorities so far are baffled.

"It's like they were in the cottage and then all of a sudden, they got beamed into outer space. It's really, really weird" says Sgt. Schneider. More ground searches are planned for next weekend.

KPIX 5's Jackie Ward and Don Ford contributed to this report.

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