Missing Hiker Rescued Near Beaver Valley

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Darren Indelicato and Donald Larson went looking for antlers in the forest about two miles from Beaver Valley. The two men split up with plans to rendezvous at a check out point later, but Indelicato did not show.

"I went more east than I thought I did," he said. "I stepped on some wet leaves and took a nice little fall and blacked out."

Larson called the Gila County Sheriff's office at 7 p.m. after searching for his friend for several hours.

Tonto Rim Search and Rescue Squad and a Department of Public Safety helicopter searched for the missing hiker. Fortunately, Indelicato is an experienced hiker and had come prepared in case of the worst.

He had matches with him. When he regained consciousness, he made a campfire with wood and needles inside a ring of rocks.

"Even with the fire I was getting pretty cold," he said.

The helicopter located Indelicato at 10 p.m. and radioed coordinates to the deputies. Search and rescue personnel made their way to him by ATV and on foot at 12:20 a.m., escorted him to the Control Road an hour and 15 minutes later, then home to Payson.

"I pulled some tendons in my right arm, my back is sore and I hit my head pretty hard, but other than that I am OK," Indelicato said.

"I really appreciate them finding me. I would have survived the night, but I was sure glad to see them."

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