Hiker rescued after braving 3 ‘very cold nights’ lost in wilderness near Escalante

Crews at the scene of a search and rescue operation in Garfield County, Utah, May 25, 2019 | File photo courtesy of Garfield County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A missing hiker was located by deputies after braving three frigid nights alone in the wilderness of Garfield County.

On Sunday afternoon, the family member of the hiker called the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office reporting after their relative had failed to return from a hike in the Box-Death Hollow wilderness, a remote area that spans nearly 26,000 acres located within Dixie National Forest.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office’s Search and Rescue teams were dispatched to the area to begin the search, while a Utah Department of Public Safety Helicopter looked for the hiker by air, Garfield County Sheriff’s spokesperson Denise Dastrup told St. George News.

Later that evening, the search was called off when the weather worsened. The following morning, two Garfield County deputies resumed the search as they scoured the large area in search of the missing 67-year-old hiker, and even after a day-long search, they were unable to locate him.

On Tuesday, deputies searched for the hiker throughout the day, and by nightfall, they were again unable to locate him.

On Wednesday morning, the deputies continued the search and were soon joined by a DPS helicopter that began scouring the area by air. Just before noon, they were able to spot the hiker in the same general area they had been searching in on Bureau of Land Management land.

Death-Hollow wilderness near Escalante where hiker was lost for three days before being rescued, Garfield County, Utah, Sept. 9, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Lisa Young, U.S. Forest Service, St. George News

When they found the man he was very hypothermic, Dastrup said, and told rescuers “he truly believed he was going to die out there after being lost for so many days.”

The hiker was stabilized and then transported to the hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Dastrup said it was the same two deputies who continued searching for the hiker, logging more than 22 hours and hundreds of miles over the course of three days.

“They went out there every day to search for the individual,” Dastrup said.

Had the search gone differently, she said, the outcome could have been very grim for the missing man due to the vastness of the area, the weather and the fact that he was exposed to the elements for a prolonged period. Additionally, the man braved three “very cold nights” out there.

The efforts of all involved were not lost on the family member who made the initial report, she said, who had lost hope that the hiker would be found alive after more than three days. The relative told rescuers “how grateful they were for their hard work to find them and bring their family member home.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!