The Nuclear Theory

According to the first responders on the scene of the hikers’ demise, several of the lighter-skinned bodies appeared to be “deeply tanned,” which seemed unlikely given the weather conditions and the last observations of the victims. A rescuer with a Geiger counter also supposedly noted radiation from several of the bodies, and Cassidy Daniels’ father, a shift supervisor at the Three Rivers Nuclear Power Plant, reportedly arrived to identify her body still wearing his dosimeter, which was logged as having been exposed to significant radiation when he returned.

The ostensible culprit in this case was the same as that forwarded by other theories, namely the Utah Test and Training Range and the Dugway Proving Ground 500 miles to the south. it is now known that Dugway engineers tested a variety of radiation weapons, from dirty bombs to simulated nuclear ‘fizzles,’ before tests were officially halted in the mid-1980s. The same suspicion falls on the US Army assistance to the search, implicating them in a cleanup or coverup.

In 2007, ten years after the deaths of the hikers, a routine audit found that 1.1 kg of enriched uranium was missing from the Dugway stockpile, having been earmarked for weapons testing but apparently never expended. FOIA requests have revealed that a Dugway-registered transport plane flew over the area two weeks before the Mercer party ascended, and base records show a number of excursions to the general area.

Rigorous research has established that the transport plane was carrying specialists to Alaska, however, rather than any sort of weapon or weapon parts. The base records of excursions are also entirely for hiking and other alpine sports by US Army teams. But the biggest problem with the radiation theory is its inception.

While widely reported, no one member of the search team has ever admitted taking the radiation readings. No Geiger counter was ever located, and one was not part of the standard search and rescue kit at the time (or even today). Furthermore, several members of the group were naturally dark-skinned, meaning that rescuers with preconceived notions might well has described the bodies as ‘unnaturally tan.’

For some time, conspiracy theorists supporting this version of events have sought to have radiological tests run on the remains of the hikers, but almost all of the bodies were cremated, and the remaining two families have refused tests.

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