An elderly hiker who was missing for six days was found dead in a rugged forest in Arizona with his loyal dog still alive at his side, officials said.
The body of 74-year-old Donald Hayes was located by authorities on Wednesday near Mingus Mountain in north-central Arizona – about 85 miles north of Phoenix, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
When respondents arrived on scene, they found Hayes’ dog, Ranger, “very dehydrated and malnourished,” lying next to his body, officials said.
Responders took the pup to an animal hospital before he was returned to Hayes’ wife, a sheriff’s office spokesperson said.
Hayes’ cause of death was not immediately clear.
The missing man had called his wife earlier in the week and told her that he had gotten lost after venturing on a hike with Ranger. She called authorities, prompting a six-day ground-and-air search for Hayes that included respondents from four counties and a state police helicopter.
Authorities told him to remain where he was, but he appears to have neglected the instructions.
“Unfortunately, the victim decided against the advice and tried to find his way out, causing him to become lost further in the forest,” the sheriff’s department said.
The man and his dog were found roughly six miles in a straight line from the trailhead, but more than twice the distance due to the tough terrain, officials said.
“I thank all the volunteer search and rescue teams and others who gave of their time for six days to locate the victim and bring him home,” Sheriff David Rhodes said. “Our searchers utilized every tool at their disposal to find Mr. Hayes and never gave up. ”
A GoFundMe campaign for Ranger’s veterinarian bills has raised over $ 4,300 as of Friday evening.
“Ranger is improving,” the webpage says. “He ate dinner. The hope is to release him tomorrow to his family
With Post wires