A 62-year old deer hunter from Las Vegas spent a cold, wet night in the open in the Mt. Wilson area, Oct. 7, after becoming separated from his two hunting friends.
County Sheriff Kerry Lee stated that Lee Ramsey was reported missing about 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon after he failed to return to the truck the group had taken to go hunting on the west side of Mt. Wilson near Camp Valley and the Pearson Ranch.
Lee said a search and rescue group of about six to eight people was mobilized to go into the area. “We searched until about 10 p.m. but did not locate him.”
The weather was quite bad with continual rain and snow at the higher elevations. Lee said, “Searching at night is not only dangerous but difficult. His friends said he was pretty well outfitted for the weather with proper clothing and a backpack and no known serious medical conditions, so we felt confident by that late hour we could suspend the search until daybreak. He had bad knees but had a walking stick with him.”
“We set up an incident command post Saturday afternoon in Upper Spring Valley for our search groups and had notified other hunters in the area to be on the lookout.”
On Sunday, Lee said a larger group of more than 20 searchers was assembled to help. “We had searchers on foot, on ATVs, in four-wheel drive vehicles, and on horseback.”
The general area to search was known, Lee said, “and with the bad weather, we felt that he would have dropped down to lower elevations to get out of the snow. What I think happened was when he was out on Saturday, the storm clouds were so low, he could not see the mountains and got disoriented.”
Around 9 a.m. Sunday morning, searchers on ATVs located Ramsey in a large drainage wash, slowly making his way south. “He was very cold, maybe a touch of hypothermia,” Lee said, “but we got him some dry clothes, hot food, and coffee. He did not need medical attention although he was examined by an EMT on scene. He said his bad knees were pretty sore.”
Ramsey was able to notify his family of his rescue via cell phone. He told searchers he was able to catch rainwater in his rain poncho to drink and had a few granola bars to eat. He said he hiked during the dark until about 2 a.m., but realized he could not see where he was going and the weather continued to be bad, so he decided to just hunker down under a tree in his poncho and wait until daylight. Then he began walking again.
Lee said Ramsey was supposed to have gone north to meet up with his hunting partners on Saturday but got turned around and was really heading south. “We found him north of Parsnip Peak. He had done the right thing though; after realizing he was disoriented, he followed the drainage downhill and had he continued, would eventually have come to the pivots at the Pearson Ranch. There were a lot of hunters in the area, just not his specific area.”
Lee gave special thanks to the numerous volunteers that aided in the search on Sunday. “We had two other vehicles of hunters who stopped to volunteer their time to come help us. We couldn’t do it with just our own staff alone.”