SPRINGDALE, Utah (ABC4) – A successful rescue mission for 79-year-old John Fiske Burg who went missing last Wednesday and found just this past Saturday is prompting a warning from Zion National Park’s Chief Ranger, Daniel Fagergren.
“People just need to be aware of the fact that they need to plan, they should go hiking with someone, they should bring adequate supplies, food, water, clothing,” he says.
Burg is from Colorado and was staying in Kanab with a group of 50 hikers when he left alone to hike the Canyon Overlook Trail.
“He took a small map with him, and he headed out from Canyon Overlook, that’s the trail that starts east of the tunnel and heads up and looks off the Great Arch,” says Fagergren.
Fagergren says Burg was able to make a brief call Friday, after climbing to higher ground and while it didn’t help find him, it gave officials a glimpse of hope.
“It infused the entire operation with hope, that he was still alive and in desperate need of help, and that gave us the renewed energy to really re-double our efforts the following day,” says Fagergren.
Officials found Burg 5 days later with serious injuries, about 6 miles from the Overlook Trail at Lodge Canyon.
“It’s really a traverse of really, really difficult terrain, in order to get to where he started, from where he was found,” he says.
Rangers are still figuring out how exactly, the 79-year-old got there by foot.
“We had a copy of the map that he had and so we thought okay well this makes sense to start here, but because of deviation, it leads to that situation where we were really searching in the wrong area,” he says.
Fagergren says it’s a record year with over 160 major search and rescue missions and 5 fatalities just in the last four months and this case serves as a reminder, to stick to the trail and stay with a group.