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Missing Angeles National Forest Hiker Found Safe With Help Of Map Enthusiast

ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST (CBSLA) — A 45-year-old hiker who was reported missing after he texted a friend that he was lost in Angeles National Forest has been found, authorities said Tuesday.

Rene Compean of Palmdale was reported missing at about 6 p.m. Monday by a friend who had received a photo from Compean stating he was lost and his cellphone was dying, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

On Tuesday morning, LASD shared the photo Compean sent to his friend and asked the public for help identifying the area where the picture was taken.

missing hiker legs
(credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

The photo made its way to satellite mapping enthusiast Benjamin Kuo, who helped authorities narrow down Compean's location.

"You don't think that sitting behind a computer and looking at a picture and saying, 'Oh, it looks like that might be where he is,' would lead to a person being rescued," Kuo said. "I was hoping I didn't send them on a wild goose chase, and then they'd get mad at me."

Officials found the hiker within three-quarters of a mile of the GPS coordinates Kuo sent them. Sheriff's Sgt. John Gilbert says Kuo's coordinates matched cell phone data they were already using and helped the search team pinpoint the hiker's exact location.

"And lo and behold as they're doing their search mission, they see our missing person on the ridgeline," Gilbert said.

Compean's car was found near Buckhorn Campground and Trailhead in Pearblossom in the Antelope Valley, though it was not immediately clear which trail he took.

"Search and rescue sheriffs, they're awesome. I really appreciate everything they did, they didn't give up," said Compean.

He himself was found safe and in good condition at about 3:45 p.m. in a remote ridgeline near Twin Peaks East and Triplet Rocks, the sheriff's department said.

Compean was taken to the Chilao Campgrounds in the Palmdale area and airlifted to safety. He did not need to be hospitalized.

The best way to let people know your location is to share your GPS coordinates. Google Maps offers information on how to do so here.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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