Hiker Missing Overnight Found Safe After Man's 'Weird Hobby' Pinpoints Where He Was Stranded

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A dead cellphone is not something most people have to worry about these days. We’re always steps away from a charger or alternative means of communication.

But step into the wild, and you flirt with the possibility of being unable to contact anyone.

Rene Compean recently experienced this when he got lost on a hike in California on Monday.

Compean is no stranger to hiking, but he later said that many of the trail markers had been burned in a recent fire, which is how he ended up stranded.

A friend of Compean’s called the police after Compean texted him saying that he was lost and his phone was dying.

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Search-and-rescue teams were immediately activated, but it wasn’t enough. Compean spent the cold night alone.

He even saw a bear and a mountain lion — thankfully, they didn’t come too close. The search continued in the morning, to no avail.

After sheltering for the night in a canyon, Compean managed to hike up to a ridgeline and send his friend a photo of his location shortly before his phone died. The only clue as to his whereabouts was the single image of him sitting on a rock and dangling his legs over a drop-off.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department shared the image on social media in the hope that someone would be able to recognize the mountainous area.

That’s when Benjamin Kuo came across the photo.

“I’ve got a very weird hobby, which is, I love taking a look at photos and figuring out where they’re taken,” Kuo told KNBC-TV.

“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 added to KCBS-TV. “I was hoping I didn’t send them on a wild goose chase, and then they’d get mad at me.”

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Compean was found on Tuesday afternoon within three-quarters of a mile from where Kuo guessed the photo had been taken.

Thankfully, he was in good shape and didn’t need to go to the hospital. He was incredibly grateful for Kuo’s “weird hobby,” and told him so when they had a video chat.

“I crazy appreciate what you did. … I really don’t know if I could make it there another day,” Compean told his hero. “It was just so cold.”

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking