Missing Ariz. Hiker Found Dead 'Far Away from Civilization' — and His Dog, Who Survived, Was by His Side

Donald Hayes, 74, was found dead on Mingus Mountain alongside his dog Ranger, who was rescued

Missing Hiker Donald Ernest Hayes
Donald Hayes. Photo: Yavapai County Sheriff's Office

A missing hiker was found dead in Arizona, while his dog, who remained by his side, was found alive.

On Wednesday, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office announced that their days-long search for 74-year-old hiker Donald Hayes from Prescott Valley — who had last been seen on a Mingus Mountain trailhead on May 13 — had ended.

His body was "found in a rugged area that had been difficult for searchers to reach," police wrote in a statement.

"Mr. Hayes' dog Ranger who was with him on the hike, was found alive having remained with the victim," they wrote, noting that the dog was transported to a local animal hospital for treatment.

Authorities found Hayes' body on Mingus Mountain about six miles from the distance of the trailhead, sheriff's spokesperson Kristin Greene told CBS News and the Associated Press. However, due to terrain, Greene told the outlet that the distance would take twice that time to hike.

"He was definitely far, far away from civilization," the spokesperson said.

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According to the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, on the afternoon of May 13, Hayes called his wife to tell her that "he and his dog Ranger were lost but he wasn't sure where."

Although authorities were able to make contact with him around 2 p.m., Hayes "stated that he did not want to wait for a rescue and that he was 'continuing down a ravine.' "

"He stated he was unsure of what ravine, but told Forest Patrol he thought he was moving northwest and saw Williamson Valley," they wrote.

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At the time, Hayes told forest patrol that he "still had food and water" but was "turning his phone off to save the battery."

After that, authorities were not able to reach him again and said that they were unable to locate his phone using GPS.

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Over that weekend, police utilized search dogs, a helicopter, and a thermal drone, none of which "produced any results," although his vehicle was located along the trailhead.

In an update on Monday, the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office said that "due to the difficult terrain" as well as the large area they were searching, they would be turning to neighboring counties to join in the search.

Two days later, his body was finally found.

"I thank all the volunteer search and rescue teams and others who gave of their time for 6 days to locate the victim and bring him home" Sheriff David Rhodes said in a statement on Wednesday. "Our searchers utilized every tool at their disposal to find Mr. Hayes and never gave up."

"Our condolences go out to Mr. Hayes' family, and we wish the outcome could have been different," Rhodes added.

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Although authorities did not provide a cause of death for the hiker, a sheriff's spokesperson told CBS News and the AP that his dog "was more than likely very dehydrated and malnourished."

Rescuers gave the dog oxygen and fluids on the scene and also cooled him down before he was moved, rescue team members told NBC affiliate KPNX.

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