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Mysterious photo saves missing California hiker

Shweta Sharma
·3-min read
<p>A hiker went missing in the Angeles National Forest in southern California after he lost his way and his phone battery died</p> (LA County Sheriffs/ Twitter)

A hiker went missing in the Angeles National Forest in southern California after he lost his way and his phone battery died

(LA County Sheriffs/ Twitter)

A hiker who went missing in California was found to be safe, thanks to his last “mystery” photo and the “weird hobby” of a man to likes to track locations from pictures people share.

Rene Compean, 45, went missing on Monday after he went on a hike at a popular ski destination in the San Gabriel Mountains in Southern California.

The 45-year-old texted his picture to a friend from his outdoor adventure, showing his legs dangling from a precipice with a view of a canyon beneath and the slopes in the distance. He told him his phone battery is running low and he was lost. Shortly after, he went off the map.

The friend reported him missing to the authorities at 6 pm and turned his last photo over to the investigators.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department immediately launched a search operation in the Mt Waterman area and looked for him through the night but were unable to locate him.

To make things worse the hiker’s phone location was off and investigators were not able to track it either. The investigators then shared his picture on social media and asked people if they recognised the spot in the photograph.

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Benjamin Kuo, an avid hiker with a passion for locating places from pictures shared online, offered to help. He used his prior expertise of tracking wildfires in remote areas on forests.

"I’ve got a very weird hobby, which is I love taking a look at photos and figuring out where they’re taken," Mr Kuo said to NBC Los Angeles.

He was able to find the coordinate of the lost hiker after using satellite images, maps and the scenery of the photograph shared by Mr Compean.

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

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

Mr Kuo and the lost hiker met virtually on Tuesday.

"I crazy appreciate what you did...I really don’t know if I could make it there another day. It was just so cold," Mr Compean told Mr Kuo.

Mr Compean said he might have lost track of the area after a recent wildfire due to which some signs were burned down and might have taken wrong turns.

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