Missing Mountain Biker Found Uninjured

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More than two dozen searchers from Rim country rescue teams combed the forest late Monday night for a 65-year-old man who was reported missing.

The man, Roger Ballard, was spotted Tuesday morning by a Channel 5 News helicopter.

"He's in very good shape," Gila County Det. Brian Havey said.

According to Havey, Ballard left his home Monday to ride a mountain bike he'd bought at a yard sale. Ballard told his girlfriend he'd be riding out near the Cracker Jack Road northwest of Payson, and expected to return later that afternoon. When he hadn't returned home by nightfall, Ballard's girlfriend called the sheriff's department.

"Apparently, he was riding out by Cracker Jack, when he came down a steep incline and wrecked the front end of his bike," Havey said. "Since the bike wasn't in great shape anyway, he left it out there and began to hike back into town."

Havey said Ballard had packed food, coffee and a space blanket for the trip, and when it got too dark to continue hiking, he bunked down for the night in the forest.

Members of Tonto Rim Search and Rescue joined the sheriff's department and its posse members in the search.

"We had people out there all night," Havey said. "Ballard was finally spotted around 8:38 a.m., and despite a few scratches, is in quite good physical shape."

Ballard, an ex-Marine, recently moved to Payson from Washington state.

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