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Mysterious photo saves missing Californian hiker


Hiker vanished in Angeles National Forest, Southern California after getting lost and his phone battery died

(LA County Sheriffs / Twitter)

A hiker who went missing in California has been found safe, thanks to his latest “mystery” photo and the “weird hobby” of a man who likes to follow places from photos people share.

René Compean, 45, went missing on Monday after hiking at a popular ski destination in the San Gabriel Mountains in southern California.

The 45-year-old sent his photo to a friend from his outdoor adventure, showing his legs hanging from a precipice with a view of a canyon below and the slopes in the distance. He told her that his phone’s battery was low and that he was lost. Soon after, he left the map.

The friend reported his disappearance to authorities at 6 p.m. and gave his latest photo to investigators.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department immediately launched a search operation in the Mt Waterman area and searched for him overnight, but were unable to locate him.

To make matters worse, the location of the hiker’s phone was turned off and investigators were also unable to track him. Investigators then shared her photo on social media and asked people if they recognized the location in the photo.

Benjamin Kuo, an avid hiker with a passion for locating places from photos shared online, offered to help. He used his previous expertise in monitoring forest fires in remote areas of forests.

“I have a very strange hobby, which is that I love looking at pictures and knowing where they are taken,” Mr. Kuo told NBC Los Angeles.

He was able to locate the coordinates of the lost hiker after using satellite images, maps and the landscape from the photograph shared by Mr. Compean.

He sent the clue of his possible location to investigators and helicopters were dispatched to locate the man.

Mr. Compean was airlifted out of the Angeles National Forest, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Kuo and the lost hiker met practically on Tuesday.

“I completely appreciate what you did… I really don’t know if I could make it on another day. It was so cold,” Mr. Compean told Mr. Kuo.

Mr Compean said he may have lost track of the area after a recent wildfire caused some signs to be set on fire and could have taken some wrong turns.

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