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Lost hiker found safe after community identifies location in photo he sent a friend

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Posted at 8:54 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 21:54:32-04

A hiker who got lost while in the mountains of the Angeles National Forest in California was found safe this week thanks to a photo he sent his friend, and the help of an avid hiker who recognized the terrain in an image.

Rene Compean texted his friend Monday night that he was lost and his cell phone was dying, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department that posted about the search.

Compean’s friend gave deputies a photo that the hiker had sent earlier in the hike. It showed Compean’s legs dangling off a cliff. The friend hoped the photo could help locate where Compean was so deputies could narrow their search.

“Unfortunately, Rene did not have his ‘location’ on for his phone, so team members were unable to get his location code from the photo,” the sheriff’s department said.

Officials posted the photo of Compean’s legs online and shared it with the media, hoping someone may recognize the location. They guessed the dirt on his legs was from hiking through a burn area of the mountain.

An avid hiker of the Angeles National Forest reached out to deputies after seeing the photo.

The hiker, identified by KCBS as Benjamin Kuo, was able to give deputies GPS coordinates of where he thought Compean was.

"You don’t think that 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," Kuo told KCBS.

Kuo’s coordinates helped. On Tuesday, rescuers were able to find Compean within three-quarters of a mile from Kuo’s GPS coordinates.

Compean even posed for a quick picture with the rescue crew and appeared to be OK.