Man rescued after getting lost in Angeles National Forest speaks out

A hiker from Palmdale who got lost in the Angeles National Forest and texted his friend a life-saving photo just as his cellphone was about to die is detailing what that was like before he was rescued.

Video Transcript

- A hiker gets lost in the Angeles National Forrest and his cell phone is just about to die. But instead of panicking, he texts a friend with a life saving photo. Eyewitness News reporter Jory Rand explains what happened next.

RENE COMPEAN: I just helped, helped, and it just echoes in the mountains.

JORY RAND: For more than 30 hours, Rene Compean was alone in the wilderness of the Angeles National Forrest. He'd set out on a Monday morning hike on a familiar path but soon wandered off trail.

RENE COMPEAN: That's when I realized I'm not getting to where I need to go, I'm lost.

JORY RAND: With night and fog rolling in, his phone suddenly dropped from around 30% to less than five. He climbed as high as he could to try and get a signal before the phone died and was able to send this photo to his roommate. He didn't know it, but it set off a frantic search. LA County Sheriff's search and rescue helicopters looked that night and wound up flying right over him.

RENE COMPEAN: Took my tank top off, my white tank top, and I started waving it. But then the fog came in, and it got so thick that I could not see up to like 10, 15 feet. I could see. So they flew right on top of me, but they could see me.

JORY RAND: Thus began a night in the wild, cold with no food or water with mountain Lions and Bears visible across the Canyon.

RENE COMPEAN: They were on the opposite side of the canyon which is a good thing. So and there was a bear on the left side as well.

JORY RAND: It was a mostly sleepless night on the mountain. His mind racing.

RENE COMPEAN: I would last three on testament. Like I didn't finish it. I need to like all these things that come out to your mind.

JORY RAND: Rene survived. And though weak and dehydrated was able to make it above the clouds on Tuesday, where a ham operator who recognized the terrain from that photo--

- And I said, oh, I think I know where this guy is.

JORY RAND: --was able to direct the rescuers.

RENE COMPEAN: I just was so thankful, and I was just shaken up because it's so cold.

JORY RAND: And he now has advice for even the most experienced of hikers who may find themselves in an unexpected situation like his.

RENE COMPEAN: Don't do what I did. Have extra food, water, and stick to the trails always.