Custer County Search and Rescue locates lost hiker with help of others

CUSTER, S.D. — Law enforcement and first responders were called to Black Elk Peak January 22 for reports of a hiker who had gotten separated from friends and hadn’t returned to the trailhead.

“We get calls like this a number of times a year,” says Custer County Search and Rescue volunteer Paul Horsted. “We respond to our HQ here in Custer and head up the trail with our equipment.”

Horsted and a few others started up Trail 4 in an ATV, and then continued on foot when the conditions deteriorated.

“We were just trucking along, trying to get to the summit, because we assumed that’s where the lost party would be found if the outcome was good, and came around the corner and suddenly there he was sitting in the bushes along the trail,” he describes.

A few seconds later, the radio rang with relief, “Lost has been found!”

Custer County SAR 1“When you’re the one that actually lays eyes on them after all of this effort, it’s an awesome feeling,” Horsted says. “And you can’t wait to get on the radio and let everybody else know, because you’re pretty happy at that point.”

They offered food, warm clothes, and heat packs, and helped the hiker back down.

“We’re all just part of a team,” he adds. “I think there were over 30 people working on this call, including Pennington County, Custer County, local law enforcement, Custer State Park, a number of agencies were all working together, and that’s our goal is to just find this missing person.”

Search and Rescue suggests bringing a phone, flashlight (even in if you’re hiking during the day), food, layers, and twice as much water as you think you’ll need. “You might almost plan like you could end up out overnight, bring some food along, some snacks, and maybe something to help somebody else out that you meet along the trail,” Horsted advises. 

If you do find yourself lost, Horsted asks that you “stay on the trail, because we can search the trails after dark. We have flashlights and gear to do that, but we can’t really search off the trail.”

As for this search, he was just relieved the hiker had been located. Horsted emphasized it was a team effort, and anyone else could’ve been the one to make the discovery.

“I’m just happy it came out well,” he says tearfully.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News