71-Year-Old Man Found Alive 2 Days after Texting His Wife That He Was Lost In the Columbia River Gorge

Jené Liebenberg
May 12, 2021
06:40 P.M.

71-year-old Joe Dean was located after 16 searchers were deployed to find him. It took two days for the search and rescue team to find him.


Joe Dean, 71, set out to complete a 12-mile hike in the Columbia River Gorge but about halfway in, he realized that he was in trouble. Dean messaged his wife, saying he was lost, and two days later, search personnel located him.

The lost hiker was reported missing on Saturday at 8:33 p.m. on Saturday. By 11:00 p.m., 16 searchers were out looking for Dean, and by Sunday, the searchers had multiplied to make up a team of 65 people.

Hiker carrying a backpack. | Source: Pexels/ Lalu Fatoni

Hiker carrying a backpack. | Source: Pexels/ Lalu Fatoni


Dean planned to hike from Horsetail Falls, along with the Rock of Ages Ridge, and return via Oneonta Creek Trail but lost the trail along the way. Fires from 2017 had wrecked the trails, making them impossible to follow.


The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office took the missing person's report seriously because of Dean's age and location. Two days later, Dean was found near the Horsetail Falls Trail. The authorities released a statement reading:

"Search and rescue crews located missing Portland hiker Joe Dean, 71, at approximately 8:54 a.m. Monday, May 10. Dean was found near the Horsetail Falls Trail."


The search and rescue team placed Dean in a wheeled basket to carry him down the trail, where he was reunited with his family. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office reported that he was talking and walking with aid.


Another missing hiker who went missing in Grand Canyon National Park in December last year was found alive in February.

The Portland hiker was then transported to a local hospital to receive medical attention. Although Dean was carrying rationed snacks and warm clothes, his water ran out before searchers located him, which may have led to dehydration.



Dean's family is left overwhelmed and elated after the ordeal. His son, William Dean, explained that his father was an experienced hiker but that the situation remained grave. He shared:

“I thought today was quite do or die. I’ve always said he’s the person I want to be stuck out overnight with by accident so I’m really glad he was able to get out of here.”

Authorities revealed that Dean's rescue mission is the sixth search effort that the sheriff's office has embarked on since the beginning of April.



While 71-year-old Dean had luck and experienced searchers on his side, other hikers who have gone missing were not so fortunate. 25-year-old Jordan Naterer went missing in E.C. Manning Provincial Park last year and is yet to be found.

Authorities suspended the search for Naterer, but when another hiker found the young man's white hat and sunglasses, his family appealed that the search and rescue team should be reactivated.

With the search for Naterer still ongoing, another missing hiker who went missing in Grand Canyon National Park in December last year was found alive in February.

60-year-old Stephen Coleman was found outside the park in a healthy condition. He was last seen on December 20 when he asked a friend to look after his things while he went on a hike.

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