A Texas man who had not been seen since before Christmas at Grand Canyon National Park was plucked by helicopter from a trail on Thursday after hikers spotted him.
Martin Edward O’Connor, 58, was checked by an emergency medical team, cleared to go and reunited with a family member Thursday night, according to a park spokeswoman. It was not clear by Friday how or where he had spent the previous 11 days or what, if any, injuries he suffered.
O’Connor had last been seen Dec. 22 at Yavapai Lodge, a hotel within the national park where he had been staying since Dec. 17.
The first word that something was amiss came Monday, with a short news release and Facebook post from the Grand Canyon National Park: “Missing-Person Search Initiated at Grand Canyon.” The Park Service said O’Connor was believed to be traveling alone and asked anyone who saw or talked to him to get in touch.
On Wednesday, hikers did just that, going to a backcountry information office to report they had spotted the missing man, according to spokeswoman Lily Daniels. They said they saw O’Connor along the New Hance Trail, which the park says is “recommended only for highly experienced canyon hikers.”
“It is not maintained and may be the most difficult established trail on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon,” according to the park’s website.
Daniels said the hikers spotted O’Connor just off the trail about three miles down, under some type of overhang.
“I think he was seeking cover from the elements,” she said. Although there had been snow two or three times while he was missing, she was not sure whether it had snowed exactly where he was.
By the time the hikers reported what they had found, it was too late to send a helicopter out to search on Wednesday, Daniels said. But park rangers went out Thursday morning, found O’Connor where the hikers had spotted him and got him out by helicopter at about 10 a.m.
Daniels said the helicopter brought him to the rim, where an ambulance was waiting with medical services. He was checked and cleared there and did not have to be transported to a hospital.
“It’s amazing,” she said.