NC man's body believed found

September 10, 2009 8:59:56 AM PDT
Arizona authorities say they believe they have found the body of a Clayton man who has been missing in the Grand Canyon National Park.The body was discovered around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday by helicopter. It was located in a drainage area.

Rescue crews had been searching for 43-year-old Andrew Brunelli since September 5.

Someone reported him missing to the Coconio County Sheriff's Office. Shortly after park rangers began searching for Brunelli, they discovered his rented vehicle in a parking lot at the park.

Authorities said Burnelli did not share an itinerary with his immediate family before going on his hike. He was known to go on short to medium day hikes but did not have a backcountry permit, which indicates a longer hike.

His family had not seen him since 5 a.m. on August 31.

Neighbor Cheryl Thompson said Brunelli was a good person.

"You never know that when you see someone that that's going to be the last time that you see them," Thompson said.

Neighbors said he was on vacation in Arizona and he was thrilled about the trip because he wanted to decompress.

He worked in the IT department at a First Citizens bank in Raleigh.

Some of his coworkers were able to provide valuable information about his hiking plans, which helped search and rescue crews.

Brunelli is described by those who knew his as a fun loving guy who always helped people.

Thompson's son used to mow Brunelli's lawn to earn extra money.

"I know that he could have done it, but he just told him yeah he could cut his grass," Thompson told Eyewitness News.

Neighbors say Brunelli's parents and sister, who live in Wilson, have gone to Arizona.

The neighborhood plans to have a candlelight service Thursday night outside of Brunelli's house.

The body was taken to a medical examiner for autopsy to determine an identity and a cause of death.

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