POLK COUNTY, Arkansas (AP) — Searchers in rural Arkansas are celebrating Saturday after missing hiker Josh McClatchy was found alive one week after he went missing in the woods of Polk County.
McClatchy, 37, was reported missing on June 1 after he went on a hike in the Caney Creek Wilderness area, but ended up getting lost. The Texas native texted his mother to say he needed help, but cellphone service was spotty at best and he was unable to give much help as to his location.
Those texts a week ago were the last anyone had heard from McClatchy until Friday night.
After weather and timing issues, search-and-rescue crews finally had a good window for a National Guard helicopter, equipped with infrared technology, to locate McClatchy, according to Polk County Sheriff Scott Sawyer.
Sawyer said McClatchy is in good shape and good spirits, but he is dehydrated.
He was transported to Mena Regional Health System in Mena, Arkansas, for further evaluation. McClatchy’s parents and sister, who regularly posted search updates on a Facebook page, are with him at the hospital.
The crew spotted McClatchy from the chopper within 30 minutes of beginning the search, but it took the search team an hour by foot to reach his location about 3 miles into the Caney Creek Wilderness area. He was off the trail when he was located, according to Sawyer.
It took about four hours for the rescuers to carry him out on a one-wheeled rescue cart
He went missing on the mountainous Buckeye Trail, which is in the wilderness area east of Mena, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said. His car was found at the Buckeye trailhead, authorities said.
Lost hikers are common in that area, but they are usually found within a few hours, according to the sheriff.
McClatchy did have protein bars and bottled water with him, though it’s unclear how much he consumed before getting lost. He also had a filter straw that could help him drink potentially unclear water, his family said.
He had been planning the hike for the last month, but it was his first time undertaking a trip alone.
McClatchy’s rescue comes a few weeks after Amanda Eller was rescued in Maui after she went missing on a hike for 17 days. McClatchy’s mother, Jen, invoked Eller’s name in an interview with ABC News on Thursday.
“Out here the towers are 40 miles apart and not accurate in getting location, as opposed to Hawaii where Amanda Eller was getting rescued,” Jen McClatchy said. “Their towers were much closer and so it’s harder out here to track that kind of thing.”