Lost Hiker in Colorado Mountains Ignores Calls From Rescuers Because He Didn't Recognize the Number

A stock image of a man hiking.
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Officials added, “the subject had no idea that search and rescue teams were out looking for him." 

A hiker lost in the Colorado mountains for 24 hours did not answer repeated cellphone calls from search and rescue officials because the man did not recognize the "unknown" caller, authorities said, according to a published report. 

The man was hiking on Mount Elbert, the highest peak in the state, on Oct. 18 and was reported missing around 8 p.m. after failing to return to where he was staying, according to Lake County Search and Rescue (LCSR), the Guardian reported.

“Multiple attempts to contact the subject via their cell phone were unsuccessful,” LCSR said in a statement on Facebook. 

At around 10 p.m., five rescue teams went out to search the 14,440-foot peak for the missing hiker, but returned at 3 a.m. after failing to locate him, officials said. 

At 7 a.m., a second team was deployed an area where many hikers typically get lost, LCSR said. 

By 9:30 a.m. the following day, the search was called off after rescuers located the man, who had apparently returned back to his lodging.

Officials said the hiker “lost his way around nightfall and spent the night searching for the trail, and once on the trail, bounced around onto different trails trying to locate the proper trailhead, finally reaching their car the next morning, approximately 24 hours after they had started their hike,” LCSR said.

Officials added, “the subject had no idea that search and rescue teams were out looking for him." 

In the statement, Lake County Search and Rescue said one notable takeaway is that “the subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn't recognize the number. If you're overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team trying to confirm you're safe!”

After the incident, many people left mean-spirited comments towards the hiker on LCSR's Facebook page. However, LCSR counteracted by urging those “to keep your comments respectful.”

“Please remember that what seems like common sense in hindsight is not obvious to a subject in the moment when they are lost and panicking," they said. "In Colorado, most folks who spend time outdoors have a good understanding of the SAR infrastructure that is there to help them, but this is not the case nationwide.”

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