Missing 71-year-old Oregon hiker found safe two days later

(PORTLAND, Ore.) — A 71-year-old hiker who went missing in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon on Saturday has been found safe after spending two nights in the wilderness.

Joseph Dean of Portland was reported missing around 8:30 p.m. Saturday. He texted his wife in the afternoon saying he was lost somewhere on the Rock of Ages Trail in Multnomah County.

Rescue crews found Dean “conscious and breathing” Monday at 8:54 a.m. near the Horsetail Falls Trail and provided him first aid, the sheriff’s office said.

Dean was placed into a wheeled basket and guided down the rocky trail until he was reunited with family.

“Dean was transported to a local hospital for further medical evaluation. He was talking and able to walk with assistance,” the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office said in a press release.

“He’s doing well and is being assisted back to the command post. Thank you to the dedicated members both Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search-and-Rescue Team,” Sheriff Mike Reese said.

Dean told officials he planned to hike the 12-mile loop from Horsetail Falls, along the Rock of Ages Ridge, and return via the Oneonta Creek Trail. But halfway into the trek he got lost.

Deputies noted both the Oneonta and Horsetail Creek areas suffered significant fire damage during the 2017 Eagle Fire and the trails had become “indistinguishable and overgrown.” The sheriff’s office said the area has been closed since the fire.

Dean was carrying thermal leggings, a jacket, a balaclava and rationed snacks but ran out of drinking water before he was found, the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office activated a Search and Rescue team on Saturday and 65 crew members from multiple organizations began looking for Dean. They used cellphone data to identify the general search area and a drone was deployed.

Dean’s son, William Dean, said he was “elated” his father, whom he described as an experienced hiker, was found safe and sound.

“I thought today was quite do or die,” Dean said to local ABC affiliate KATU Monday. “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.”

This is the sixth search and rescue since the beginning of April, according to the sheriff’s office.

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