Missing Hiker, Who Texted Mom 'Wish Me Luck' Before Trip, Found Dead at Base of Calif. Waterfall

Robert Carey Jr.'s mother described him as someone who was well-liked and had a big heart

Big Falls, San Bernardino National Forest, Forest Falls, California, USA
Photo: Getty Images

A man has been found dead in the San Bernardino National Forest in California after an apparent fall while hiking, officials said.

Robert Carey Jr. of Calimesa was discovered last Sunday by a rescue team at the base of the Big Falls waterfall in the area, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

Authorities were alerted of Carey's disappearance a day prior when they received a call from his family after he did not return from a hike at the San Gorgonio Peak. The man's family told police that he was an "experienced hiker but had never hiked the peak."

Investigators said that they then received calls from witnesses hiking in the area, who reported that they heard an "unknown subject" calling for assistance.

The San Bernardino County Fire Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department were then deployed to search for Carey, 33. There, they found his body and he was later positively identified, police said.

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San Bernardino Mountains in San Bernardino National Forest
Getty Images

Carey was initially found at night. Authorities said that due to the danger that could be posed by the mission, emergency personnel postponed the recovery until the daytime.

The recovery team determined Carey had succumbed to his injuries, and investigators estimated that he fell "approximately 80 feet" while in the San Bernardino National Forest.

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Speaking with NBC News, Carey's mother, Bonnie Phillips, told the outlet that her son had texted her that he was on his way to the top of the San Gorgonio Peak.

"He sent me a text. He said: 'When you wake up, go out and look at the tallest mountain you see out there. And I'll be up there. Wish me luck,' " Phillips said. "He was adamant that he was going to make it to the top of that mountain. And he did."

Carey's mother told NBC News that the pair exchanged texts hours later and that Carey said he was a mile from the summit. She "knew there was something terribly wrong," however, when her son didn't attend the family's weekly Saturday night dinner, the outlet reported.

"He was my everything," Phillips said of her son, who she told NBC News was well-liked and someone who had a big heart.

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