- When avid hiker Rene Compean found himself lost in the Angeles National Forest, he sent out photos of his location in the hopes that someone can find him.
- The photo reached map enthusiast Benjamin Kuo, who pinpointed his location by inspecting the photograph.
- Compean was found near Kuo’s suggested coordinates and was lifted to safety.
A missing hiker was found and rescued thank to a stranger’s “weird hobby.”
Avid hiker Rene Compean was trekking somewhere around the San Gabriel Mountains in the Angeles National Forest on Monday when he got lost amid the landscape made unrecognizable by previous fires.
As it was getting late, Compean sent photos to his friend to try and give a clue of his location.
One of the photos, which showed his dirt-covered legs dangling above a canyon, led to his rescue on Tuesday afternoon, said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
******UPDATE – FOUND SAFE****** #LASD has Found the Missing Hiker Safe in the Angeles National Forest Los Angeles…Posted by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday, April 13, 2021
The sheriff’s department stated, “SAR Team members were able to communicate with a member of the community who is also an avid hiker in the Angeles National Forest. He shared information he knew about the area pictured in our posts.”
It also helped a lot that the photo was shared on social media, where it was spotted by map enthusiast Benjamin Kuo.
Kuo told KNBC, “I’ve got a very weird hobby which is, I love taking a look at photos and figuring out where they’re taken.”
The eagle-eyed Kuo inspected the background behind Compean’s shoes in the photo and was able to pinpoint almost his exact location. He then shared the coordinates with the sheriff’s department.
Kuo told KCBS that he never imagined “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.”
“I was hoping I didn’t send them on a wild goose chase, and then they’d get mad at me,” he noted.
Amazingly, the 45-year-old Compean was located within three-quarters of a mile of Kuo’s suggested coordinates.
Sgt. John Gilbert of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Crescenta Valley Station told KNBC that Kuo’s tip “was a good clue and it was worth investigation. So that’s when we asked our Air Rescue 5 to go and check out that area and see if they saw anything, lo and behold we were able to find him.”
Compean expressed his gratitude to Kuo when they met virtually on Tuesday.
“I crazy appreciate what you did,” he had said. “I really don’t know if I could make it there another day. It was just so cold.”
Thankfully, Compean did not need to be hospitalized and was airlifted to safety the next day.