‘I guess he's fine’: Man lost in wilderness LEFT BEHIND by rescue pilot who got 'confused' by his cheery wave

The ground rescue team eventually found the lost man and brought him to safety

‘I guess he's fine’: Man lost in wilderness LEFT BEHIND by rescue pilot who got 'confused' by his cheery wave
A helicopter rescue team thought a stranded hiker was waving hello rather than signalling for help (KCNC-TV)
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COLORADO, US: A hiking group who travelled between Surprise Lake and Upper Cataract Lake in Colorado called emergency services on Wednesday, on Sept 14,  after they noticed that one of their members did not return to camp the night before. The initial aerial search team failed to find the man who was missing

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According to rescue crews, the group had gone off trail in the swampy dense foliage. So, the ground search was taking time. Fortunately, the Blackhawk pilot spotted someone they thought could be the missing hiker.

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"He [the pilot] radioed that they had a subject that partially matched the description, but not completely only because his backpack was upside down, so it was the wrong color," Anna Debattiste of the Summit County Rescue Group told KCNC-TV.

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Spencer Wilson, also from the rescue crew, said, "Basically the Blackhawk pilot looked down and saw someone who kind of matched the description of who they were lookng for and the man looked back up and kinda waved hello so the pilot said 'i guess he is fine' and flew off."


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According to survival expert James Mandeville, raising both hands over one's head is recognized internationally as a call for help. Conversely, raising just one hand in the air with the other pointed to the ground is a way to signal that support is not needed. "An effective way to signal a helicopter is with big gestures such as waving both arms vigorously over one's head, or waving a bright-colored piece of clothing," he added. 

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The ground rescue team eventually found the man and brought him to safety. He was not injured but was just tired, dehydrated and cold. However, the man did one thing right — he stayed put during the night to avoid danger and moved out in the morning so the rescue team could find him. According to the search and rescue team, the most important lesson to take home from this incident is that if you are going out in the woods like this, bring a map or compass or a gps or a smart phone. The person who they were rescuing didn't have any one of these aids that might have helped him get out of the wilds a lot sooner.

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