Joseph Dean was found "conscious and breathing" on Monday morning near the Horsetail Creek Trail in Multnomah County, Oregon, according to officials

By Gabrielle Chung
May 11, 2021 08:57 PM
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Joe Dean
Credit: KWG NEWS

A 71-year-old hiker in Oregon has been found safe after getting lost on a trail and spending two nights out in the wilderness.

Joseph Dean was found "conscious and breathing" on Monday morning by rescue crews near the Horsetail Creek Trail in Multnomah County, according to a news release from Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

Medical personnel provided Dean first aid before bringing him down from the rocky trail in a rescue stretcher, officials said.

At the trailhead, which was approximately half a mile from where rescuers located Dean, the hiker was reunited with his family before being transported to a local hospital for further medical evaluation.

Joe Dean
Joseph Dean
| Credit: Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

Dean was first reported missing on Saturday night after he texted his wife that he was lost in the woods, according to officials.

Authorities quickly assembled a small team of rescuers to locate Dean, before a full-scale search comprised of multiple agencies — including deputies from Washington and Clackamas County — was launched on Sunday morning.

Using cell phone data, officials were able to identify a general area where Dean could possibly be and deploy a drone and airplane for aerial searches.

Dean, who authorities said was able to talk and walk with assistance when he was found, told officials that he had initially planned to hike a 12-mile loop from Horsetail Falls, along the Rock of Ages Ridge, and return through the Oneonta Creek Trail.

However, Dean got lost on the trail — which suffered significant fire damage in 2017 — halfway through his hike, according to Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

"The trails in these areas are not maintained, indistinguishable and overgrown," deputies noted in a press release. "This area has been closed since the fire."

While he had not anticipated on staying overnight, Dean brought thermal leggings, a jacket and a balaclava on his hike and was able to ration his snacks, authorities said.

Dean had run out of drinking water when rescuers found him, according to officials.

"I thought today was quite do or die," his son, William Dean, told local news outlet KATU on Monday. "I've always said he's the person I want to be stuck out overnight with by accident, so I'm really glad he was able to get out of here."