Missing Michigan hikers found alive in Vail Valley
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – A Colorado National Guard Blackhawk helicopter found two missing hikers in Reeds Meadow, west of the Mount of the Holy Cross summit, around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The two men, Andy Westergard and Bill Hird, both in their 40s from Michigan, went missing around 3:30 p.m. Monday when they were last seen at about 13,500 feet, hiking toward the summit of the mountain. The men never returned to their campsite, and another hiker reported them missing.
Westergard and Hird left their cell phones at the campsite so they could not call for help. The men were tired and a little dehydrated when rescuers found them, but they were not injured, said Shannon Cordingly, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.
The men had more gear with them than rescuers originally thought, Cordingly said. They likely went missing as they descended from the summit and lost sight of the ridgeline, she said. As search-and-rescue teams looked for them, they were also moving around, which makes the search more difficult, she said.
“We were kind of circling each other,” Cordingly said.
Vail Mountain Rescue Group advises anyone who gets lost in the backcountry to stay put and retrace your route back toward the trailhead until you pick up the trail or find someone who knows the area. If you cannot retrace your route, stay put, conserve energy and water, make yourself visible and await rescue.
Eight different agencies helped with the search-and-rescue operations – the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Vail Mountain Rescue Group, the Colorado National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Center, Summit County Rescue Group, Douglas County Search and Rescue Team, Larimer County Search and Rescue, Teller County Search and Rescue and El Paso County Search and Rescue.
Anna DeBattiste, public information officer for Summit County Rescue, said a team of four of the group’s rescuers was on the Blackhawk helicopter that found the hikers in Reed Meadow.
The search and rescue began around 8 a.m. Tuesday and ended at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The search resumed at 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, when the Colorado National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Center helicopter located the men.
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