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Update: Hiker lost in Badlands Wilderness has been found

Wyoming man visiting parents called mother to say he was lost

(Update: Adding video and more details; DCSO SAR safety recommendations)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Wyoming man who told his family he got lost hiking in the Badlands Wilderness Area east of Bend, prompting an extensive overnight search, has been found in good condition, officials said Thursday morning.

Joseph Hawkins, 20, was found near his vehicle at the Badlands Rock Trailhead, Sgt. Nathan Garibay reported shortly before 10 a.m.

"He is reported to be doing well and declining medical attention," the sheriff's office said in a tweet.

Garibay later said Hawkins was found around 9:40 a.m. when a SAR team deploying from the trailhead encountered Hawkins, who had been able to make his way back there.

Early information from Hawkins indicates "he got turned around after walking a significant distance," Garibay said.

After his cellphone battery died, Hawkins found a place to sleep, the sergeant said. He awakened Thursday morning and began walking around sunrise, making it back to the trailhead.

Hawkins was cold, but appeared otherwise unharmed, Garibay said. He was evaluated at the scene by a SAR medic and declined further medical assistance.

Garibay said the sheriff's office is "very grateful for the support from AirLink and the Civil Air Patrol" during the search.

The happy ending prompted a reminder from Garibay about how to keep safe in the backcountry.

“It’s just really important to pay attention to where you are going and to take advantage of navigation devices, whether it’s an app on your phone, GPS equipment or even map and compass," Garibay said. "It’s certainly a lost art, but we still encourage people to remember how to use a map and compass.”

When hiking or camping, Garibay said being aware of the "Ten Essentials List" is crucial. The list includes navigation, sun protection and illumination. For the full list, click here.

It was the first call-out of the year for Deschutes SAR. According to Garibay, SAR responds to about 140 missing people reports a year.

The extensive search resumed Thursday morning for Hawkins, who got lost on a New Year's hike and called his mother to let her know, shortly before his cellphone battery died.

Sheriff's deputies were dispatched around 6:30 p.m. to look for Joseph Hawkins after his mother reported he'd gone hiking in the mid-afternoon and called shortly after 6 p.m. to say he was lost and his phone battery was drained, said Garibay, assistant SAR coordinator and the county's emergency services manager.

Hawkins has been living in Wyoming and was visiting his parents in Bend for the holidays, Garibay said.

A SAR deputy who responded to the area found Hawkins' vehicle at the Badlands Rock Trailhead, located north of Highway 20E, near Horse Ridge.

Garibay said 23 SAR volunteers also responded and conducted searches in the area into early Thursday morning. They included ground teams, trackers, search dogs and drones with thermal imaging cameras to pick up heat sources.

An AirLink helicopter also assisted by providing aerial searches, with a SAR navigator on board, Garibay said.

Efforts to find Hawkins by pinging his cellphone were unsuccessful, and Hawkins was not found in initial search operations, which concluded around 3 a.m.

Another 15 SAR volunteers and three deputies resumed the search around 7 a.m., again including ground tracking, drone and ATV teams. Garibay said plans also included more aerial searches by AirLink and the Civil Air Patrol.

Deschutes County / News / Top Stories

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.

Mike Allen

Mike Allen is a reporter, anchor and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Mike here.



    1. Some of us like solitude out there, which is why we go alone. The people I know, go prepared if we end up having to stay for a while – food, water, portable shelter, fire starters, etc and we take more then one source of mapping and lighting. We also understand things happen regardless of plans and preparations, hence letting others know where you’re going. Glad to see he made it out ok. A lot of people put supper on the back burner to look for him, and I thank them for that.

    2. Because it is fun to be alone sometimes. Bad things don’t happen all the time. I also understand that some have a problem with being alone and being quiet….

    1. Only if your a lemming and follow the trails is it a park – with all the trash and “paper roses” blooming behind the shrubs and trees. There is a lot of interesting “stuff” away from the trails and roads.

    2. true, not only that, a person can hear traffic on hwy 20 from almost any location in the badlands. any direction you walk you are likely to come across a road, hwy 20, dodds rd, alfalfa mkt rd.

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