Lost Arizona Hiker Dies but his dog Survives

Lost Arizona Hiker, Donald Hayes, found dead, but his dog who stayed with him was found alive. Donald Hayes was a seventy four year old man. He went missing at the Wood Chute Trailhead on Mingus Mountain on Friday, May 13. Mingus Mountain is located in Arizona and in the Black Hill Mountain Range and is approximately eighty-six miles from Phoenix. Hayes was traveling with his dog Ranger, a mixed black and white Labrador, during the hike. 

When Hayes was lost he immediately called his wife to let her know that he and his dog were lost, but he wasn’t sure where. The authorities later got in contact with Hayes; Hayes said he didn’t need to be rescued and would instead “continue down a ravine”. A ravine is a narrow and deep pathway usually created by erosion. Officials wrote that Hayes “was unsure of what ravine, but told Forest Patrol he thought he was moving northwest and saw Williamson Valley,” During this time, Hayes apparently still had access to food and water and was turning off his cell phone to save battery. 

Shortly after, authorities weren’t able to reach Hayes because they were unable to track his phone using GPS. That same weekend they used search dogs, a helicopter, and a thermal drone in attempts to find Hayes but failed. However, due to the harsh terrain it would take double the time to hike up to the location where Hayes was last seen. Authorities also informed four nearby counties who then helped with the search. It wasn’t until two days later that they found his body. When the body was found they found Ranger “very dehydrated and malnourished,” lying next to Hayes. The dog was given oxygen and fluids before being taken to a vet. A GoFundMe campaign raised for the veterinarian bills has raised over $4,300 as of Friday evening.

The cause of Hayes’ death still remains unclear. The sheriff’s department said that “Unfortunately, the victim decided against the advice and tried to find his way out, which caused him to become lost further in the forest.” Later that day, Sheriff David Rhodes said “I thank all the volunteer search and rescue teams and others who gave their time for 6 days to locate the victim and bring him home. Our searchers utilized every tool at their disposal to find Mr. Hayes and never gave up.” Lastly, the Sheriff added “Our condolences go out to Mr. Hayes’ family, and we wish the outcome could have been different.” 

Hayes’s dog, Ranger, was able to be reunited with the wife and brought back home. It was very unfortunate that Hayes was unable to survive the journey but his dog Ranger was able to keep going.