Missing hiker found

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK – Edilberto “Beto” Lopez of Katy, Texas, was found alive following a two-day search. He is reported to be in good condition.

Mr. Lopez started hiking the Emory Peak trail in the Chisos Mountains of Saturday, September 1. Late that evening, his friends reported him missing. The National Park Service initiated ground search operations on the morning of Sunday, September 2 with 16 National Park Service search personnel, along with two Border Patrol agents assisting the ground search. Aerial search included the park’s fixed wing aircraft, and a Customs & Border Patrol Protection air and marine helicopter were used, but it wasn’t until Monday, September 3 that Mr. Lopez was found.

Lopez recounted to search personnel that he had made a wrong turn after descending the Emory Peak trail, leading him to Boot Canyon. From there, he followed the Juniper Canyon trail down, away from the Chisos Basin and out towards the open desert. He sheltered off-trail during the intense thunderstorms the first night, and without food or water remaining, Lopez hiked cross-country up the mountainside to where he last knew the trail to be. He was found along the upper Pinnacles Trail by search and rescue personnel and escorted to the trailhead.

“We are thrilled to report that Mr. Lopez was found alive and well, and that this search and rescue had a happy ending,” said Acting Superintendent Tom VandenBerg. “We want to thank the ground and air search teams, and all park visitors who contributed information to assist with our search and rescue efforts.”

Proper preparedness, including packing an emergency blanket and flashlight on his hike likely made a big difference in this case, and the park encourages all visitors to pack similar lifesaving gear on all hikes, long or short.