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Dog stayed by hiker’s body until rescue teams found them, sheriff says

Donald Hayes, 74, was found dead on Mingus Mountain after he got lost during a hike.
Donald Hayes, 74, was found dead on Mingus Mountain after he got lost during a hike.(Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office)
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 12:00 PM EDT
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PRESCOTT, Ariz. (Gray News) – The search for a missing 74-year-old hiker came to a sad ending when search teams discovered his body Wednesday afternoon with his faithful dog still by his side.

According to the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Donald Hayes had been missing on Mingus Mountain since last Friday. After six days of searching, rescue teams found his body in a rugged area that was difficult to reach.

The sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post that Hayes’ dog, a black and white Labrador named Ranger, was found alive and sticking close by his owner’s body. Ranger was taken to an animal hospital for treatment.

Officials said they conducted a large search for days to find Hayes, including using helicopters and search dogs, but “had trouble due to the difficult terrain and the vast area to be searched.”

Search and rescue teams look for Donald Hayes on Mingus Mountain in Arizona.
Search and rescue teams look for Donald Hayes on Mingus Mountain in Arizona.(Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office)

The search began when Hayes called Forest Patrol to tell them he had gotten lost on his hike on the mountain. Forest Patrol told Hayes to stay put at his location and informed him that a rescue team was on its way. However, officials said Hayes decided against that advice and continued to move around in an attempt to find his own way out. The sheriff’s office said this caused him to become further lost in the forest.

“I thank all the volunteer search and rescue teams and others who gave of their time for six days to locate the victim and bring him home,” Sheriff David Rhodes said. “Our searchers utilized every tool at their disposal to find Mr. Hayes and never gave up.”

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