A man has been found safe after he disappeared while searching for his two missing hunting dogs, Yavapai County sheriff's deputies said.
A 56-year-old Phoenix man indicated in a text message to his friend that he was in distress. Sheriff's deputies were notified Tuesday morning that man was missing somewhere in the Fossil Creek area.
Deputies learned the man began hiking in the area Sunday in hopes of finding his two dogs who were wearing GPS tracking collars.
After reviewing newly discovered text messages sent the day before, authorities focused their search to Strawberry, AZ in Gila County. Friends provided the descriptions of the missing man and his vehicle.
Deputies began assembling a ground search effort and launched YCSO's rescue helicopter.
Just after 9:30 a.m., the helicopter crew located the missing man's truck and directed a Gila County search team to that location. The truck was unoccupied and had an empty ATV trailer attached, YCSO said.
A short time later, the chopper crew found the man's abandoned ATV some distance away from the truck and began a grid search from that location.
At around 10:45 a.m., the helicopter crew saw the missing man waving for attention from an open field. The chopper landed and crew found the man tired and dehydrated. Deputies said he did not require immediate medical aid and was flown back to his ATV.
The man told deputies that he had fallen from a ledge on Monday night and tried using his cell phone to get help but was unable to call out.
He said he waited until daybreak to attempt a return to his ATV and also sent a distress text message from his cell phone to friends as calls did not go through.
Despite the ordeal, the man told deputies he planned to return on another day with help to locate the dogs.
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