Missing 71-year-old hiker’s text to wife sparks rescue in Oregon wilderness, cops say

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A 71-year-old man was found safe after officials said he texted his wife saying he was lost while hiking in Oregon.

Joe Dean, 71, of Portland was found Monday morning by rescuers near the Horsetail Falls Trail, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Officials said he was “conscious and breathing” when they administered first aid before Dean was put into a basket and taken down the trail to the parking lot.

Dean was then taken to a hospital, police said, and “was talking and able to walk with assistance.”

Authorities said Dean told them he was planning on hiking from Horsetail Falls near the Rock of Ages Ridge but lost the trail halfway through the hike. Dean texted his wife on Saturday afternoon that he was lost and was reported missing around 8:33 p.m., according to officials.

“Both the Oneonta and Horsetail Creek drainages suffered significant fire damage during the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017. The trails in these areas are not maintained, indistinguishable and overgrown. This area has been closed since the fire,” the sheriff’s office said.

Around 65 rescuers looked through the trail and wilderness on Sunday and searchers used cell phone data to narrow down an area, believing that Dean was still alive based on data and information from his family and friends, according to police.

Dean said he followed Horsetail Creek after getting lost and was equipped with thermal leggings, a jacket and balaclava but didn’t prepare to stay overnight, according to the sheriff’s office. Dean also said he was able to ration food but ran out of water.

Dean’s son, William Dean, said he’s “elated” his father, an experienced hiker, was found safe, according to ABC News.

“I thought today was quite do or die,” William Dean said. “I’ve always said he’s the person I want to be stuck out overnight with by accident so I’m really glad he was able to get out of here.”

The trail where Dean was found is located around 35 miles east of Portland.

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