Many people criticize those who can’t resist snapping photos at every opportunity. However, a recent story shows that sometimes a seemingly random snapshot can be the difference between life and death. A missing hiker in Southern California is safely at home because he took a moment to snap a picture. So, the next time you get the urge to post or send a selfie, go for it. You never know what’s going to happen. This is especially true if you’re in the great outdoors.
Rene Compean was on a hike Monday afternoon. He was traversing Mount Waterman in Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. The area is a popular ski destination. However, with warm springtime temps, Compean decided that hiking the area was a great way to spend a Monday afternoon. Just before he went missing, he snapped a quick photo and sent it to a friend. Shortly thereafter, the hiker went missing.
The photo snapped just before the 45-year-old hiker went missing shows his bare legs over the edge of a cliff. The image shows a deep valley below and mountainous slopes in the distance. Compean texted the photo to a friend before continuing his adventure.
The hiker was reported missing at 6 pm Monday. Compean texted that same friend to express worries about his situation. He said that his phone’s battery was dying. Furthermore, he was pretty sure he was lost. Compean’s friend had the foresight to turn that photo over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office hoping that it would assist them in finding Compean. They posted it to social media asking if anyone recognized the area.
How the Photo Helped to Find the Missing Hiker
Before long someone stepped up to try and find the missing hiker. That internet sleuth’s name was Benjamin Kuo, according to SFGate. Kuo said, “I’ve got a very weird hobby, which is I love taking a look at photos and figuring out where they’re taken,”
That weird hobby may have saved the missing hiker’s life. Kuo took the image and set to work trying to find out where it was taken. He used the scenery in Compean’s photo, satellite images, and maps of the area to narrow down where he thought the picture was taken. After he was fairly certain he had nailed down the location, he sent the tip over to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.
The tip was the best chance they had of finding the missing hiker. So, they used it to plot their rescue. They sent a helicopter to the area Kuo had outlined on Tuesday. It didn’t take them long to spot the missing hiker. Campean was taken to a nearby campground and examined. He, fortunately, did not need to be hospitalized. He was, however, very grateful to his rescuers and the man whose “weird hobby” saved his bacon.