BOISE - Thanks to a drone and some quick-thinking campers, a 70-year-old hiker in distress is in distress no more after a rescue north of Jordan Valley, Oregon.
The hiker was able to send a rescue note by using a nearby camper's drone.
"We were just planning on a quiet weekend of marshmallows on the campfire and hiking during the day," says Ryan Blizzard, who was camping last weekend at Leslie Gulch with his family.
Blizzard set up camp Saturday near Owyhee Lake.
"I walked down to the lake and I saw something green on the far side of the reservoir, it wasn't moving. I didn't think anything of it, there was a lot of wind and I thought that it must have been trash that washed up," recalls Blizzard.
The next morning, a frantic fisherman came over to Blizzard's campsite asking if they had a boat and that there was someone flailing their arms for help on the other side of the lake.
"And I saw that the green I saw the day before was the gentleman's, who was stranded, jacket. He was waving for assistance, and I talked to the fisherman and said I would drive out to cell service or a landline and call 911," says Blizzard.
While Blizzard drove to get help, he says the family camping next to his had a drone.
"He went down to the water and he only had enough battery to do one trip and he attached a piece of paper and a pen to his drone and walked over to the reservoir and landed it, and the guy over there wrote a note and sent it back. It said, 'I'm 70 years old, I've been here for days help."
According to the Malheur County sheriff, the hiker had been there for days.
He was dropped off by helicopter, with plans to go on a long, multi-day hike, but became ill.
"He experienced some vomiting and had passed out at one point," says Sheriff Brian Wolfe.
"We had binoculars so we were able to look at him, and when he wasn't talking to us he would just kind of sit there almost kind of slumped over and you could tell he was in bad shape," says Blizzard.
Eventually, the man was able to make his way down to the lake where he was able to flag down Blizzard and campers on the other side.
A Malheur County marine deputy rescued the man later that afternoon.
"I was able to make it, it was very windy that day," says Blizzard.
Sheriff Wolfe says the hiker was well-prepared with food and water but had no backup communication plan.
He was lucky Blizzard and the fast-thinking pilot was there to spot him.
Because there is no cell service in that area, Wolfe says hikers that plan to be there for several days should bring a satellite phone. They are expensive to buy but much cheaper to rent.
The hiker is doing fine, and is undoubtedly a fan of drones after this experience.