A 73-year-old hiker was found alive Saturday in the wilderness, a week after being reported missing in Angeles National Forest, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
Teams from at least five counties combed through rugged terrain for days, searching for Eugene Jo, who was separated from his group on June 22, on a trail near near Mount Waterman.
Jo was airlifted to Huntington Memorial after his rescue, but did not appear to have sustained any traumatic injuries, the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
The hiker hadn’t eaten in at least five days when he was found by the sheriff’s Altadena Mountain Rescue Team at about 11 a.m., authorities said.
Janet Henderson, a nurse at the hospital and a member of the L.A. Sheriff’s Montrose search and rescue team, said Jo was in great condition and is happily making jokes with family in his hospital room.
“The rescuers were talking to some campers. Mr. Jo heard their voice and he said it took everything he had to roll over on his hands and knees and yell for help, and that’s when the rescuers heard him,” Henderson said.
Jo survived by drinking water out of the Devil’s Canyon creek, sleeping on hot rocks and using his jacket to keep warm. Temperatures were mild in the Angeles National Forest while Jo was lost there, and water levels were up due to the heavier rainfall, the Montrose search and rescue team said.
Jo kept following the creek, desperately canvasing the rugged terrain for mountain strawberries and frogs to sustain him, Henderson said.
“There were lots of tears and joy. He’s so happy and thankful to be back, and he said no more hiking,” Henderson said.
Over 70 people showed up Saturday to search for Jo, rescuers said.
A photo posted to the department’s Special Enforcement Bureau’s Twitter shows medics treating the man in a helicopter. He is seen lying down on his back with his hiking boots visibly torn.
“People always ask us why we volunteer countless hours of training and callout to help people that we don’t even know. This is why…..the best possible outcome,” Montrose Search and Rescue Team said on Twitter.
BREAKING: Search team reports they have found 73 year old Mr Jo, after a week in the wilderness, he is alive! #LASD Air Rescue 5 inserted SEB Tactical Medics into Devils Canyon, ANF and hoisted him into the aircraft. Hiker was airlifted to hospital. @LASDHQ @CVLASD @LasdSar pic.twitter.com/HIONFiOtIg
— SEB (@SEBLASD) June 29, 2019
GREAT NEWS! 73 y/o #MISSING HIKER HAS BEEN FOUND ALIVE AFTER 1 WK IN THE WILDERNESS @SEBLASD #Air5 transport to local hosp #FTF Awesome job #SAR #Montrose #Altadena #SierraMadre @contracosta @CoCoSheriff @FresnoSheriff @KernCoSheriff @sbcountysheriff @SDSheriff @VENTURASHERIFF https://t.co/zqdPA4JeUQ
— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) June 29, 2019