A desperate weeklong search for a missing 73-year-old hiker in the mountains of Southern California has ended with his rescue.
Eugene Jo was recovered in Angeles National Forest’s Devil’s Canyon on Saturday morning, exactly a week after he became separated from his hiking group on June 22.
“The fact that he survived this long … it’s amazing,” Sgt. John Gilbert of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department told CBS Los Angeles.
Search teams of people across the state had combed through the area to find him while rescuers with all seven Los Angeles County search and rescue teams deployed search dogs, drones and helicopters to help, the Altadena Sheriff’s Station said.
Jo drank from a stream, ate some plants and stayed warm at night with the help of rocks that had heated up during the daytime, authorities said.
“He would wrap his jacket around him and the beach towel that he had with him,” Janet Henderson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Search & Rescue told CBS Los Angeles. “He got in close next to the hot rocks because it is very hot up there and those rocks do heat up and that’s how he kept himself warm at night.”
Photos of him being tended to show him in good spirits in a local hospital where he was evacuated before being discharged to family.
His hiking boots, however, looked beyond repair.
Photos show the soles of his boots completely stripped and apparently tied into place with the shoelaces.
“Mr. Jo had hiked on such rough ground that his shoes nearly destroyed themselves and he had to tie them back together with his shoelaces,” the Altadena Sheriff’s Station said while sharing a photo of the shoes. “He also credits his positive outcome due to his prior military training and told us he would not give up.”