Hunter missing 18 days found safe in California wilderness

Oct. 14, 2013 at 1:27 AM
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SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- A 72-year-old California hunter who was missing for 18 days in the Mendocino National Forest was home Sunday, the day after being rescued, authorities said.

Gene Penaflor, 72, of San Francisco was found in a canyon Saturday by other hunters who heard his cries for help, The (Santa Rosa) Press Democrat reported. He was airlifted to a hospital to be checked out before being sent home, the newspaper said.

Lt. Shannon Barney of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said Penaflor, who had been missing since Sept. 24, was found in a remote area north of Lake Pillsbury where he and a friend were deer hunting.

Search-and-rescue teams from several counties had spent four days trying to find him before bad weather and lack of resources forced them to call off the search, the newspaper said.

Penaflor found himself in trouble when he awoke after being knocked unconscious in a fall, county authorities said. He survived on squirrels and water, they said.

Sheriff Tom Allman said Penaflor did the right things to give himself a chance to survive -- he stayed where he was, started a fire, stayed dry and didn't waste his remaining ammunition, the newspaper said.

"He kept his wits about him," Allman said. "He realized he didn't have energy to climb the mountain, he used his rifle to kill wildlife that came close to him and kept the embers going.

"Other than being dehydrated, he was fine, he was joking around, he appeared very healthy."

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