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Hiker Rescued Near Horsetail Falls After a Dayslong Search

Search crews had been looking for 71-year-old Joe Dean since Saturday.

After a weekendlong search, a Portland hiker who went missing in the Columbia River Gorge last Saturday was found alive and rescued this morning.

Joe Dean, 71, was first reported missing May 8 after he texted his wife that he was lost near Rock of Ages Ridge, an area that suffered fire damage and has been closed since the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017. A 16-member search-and-rescue team was deployed that night.

On Sunday, a crew of 65 from several volunteer rescue groups and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office set out to search for Dean. At nightfall, he was still missing.

Dean was found conscious and breathing this morning just before 9 am near the Horsetail Creek Trail. He was placed on a stretcher and brought to the trailhead by 11 am, where he was reunited with his family and then taken to a hospital for further evaluation.

Portland Mountain Rescue, one of the volunteer groups that assisted with the successful rescue, cautioned Gorge hikers to heed trail closures.

“Although these closed trails still appear on maps, they are closed because they no longer exist,” the group wrote in a Facebook post. “Many of our rescuers characterized these conditions as the most difficult environment we have ever searched.”