YCSO search crews find missing 74-year-old hiker dead on Mingus Mountain; dog rescued

Donald Hayes, 74, of Prescott Valley.

Donald Hayes, 74, of Prescott Valley.

Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) Search and Rescue teams and partners reported May 18 that they located the body of 74-year-old Donald Hayes of Prescott Valley, who had been missing on Mingus Mountain since May 13.

A YCSO news release stated that Hayes was found dead in a rugged area which had been difficult for searchers to reach. Not until the afternoon of May 18 did searchers get to the area and find Hayes.

Hayes’ dog, Ranger, who accompanied him on the hike, was found alive. Ranger had remained with Hayes.

The dog was treated at the scene by a volunteer who was a veterinarian. Ranger was taken to a local animal hospital for treatment.

Hayes had last been seen in the area of the Woodchute Trailhead on Mingus Mountain near Forest Service Road 102 the morning of May 13.

YCSO Backcountry Search and Rescue (SAR), Verde SAR, search dogs, the Sheriff’s Volunteer OHV Unit, 4x4 Unit and Jeep Posse personnel, along with a Department of Public Safety (DPS) Ranger helicopter searched on foot, vehicle and air for days trying to find Hayes.

They had trouble during the search because of the difficult terrain and the vast area that had to be searched.

“I thank all the volunteer search and rescue teams and others who gave of their time for 6 days to locate the victim and bring him home,” Sheriff David Rhodes stated in the release. “Our searchers utilized every tool at their disposal to find Mr. Hayes and never gave up.”

Hayes had contacted YCSO Forest Patrol the afternoon of May 13, stating he got lost on his hike on Mingus Mountain.

Forest Patrol informed him that rescuers would be on their way and that he should remain at his location.

“Unfortunately, the victim decided against the advice and tried to find his way out, causing him to become lost further in the forest,” the release stated. “SAR volunteers from Coconino County, Maricopa County, and Gila County also assisted in the search and recovery efforts.”

Added Rhodes, “Our condolences go out to Mr. Hayes’ family, and we wish the outcome could have been different.”

YCSO also thanked everyone in the community who offered help during the search for Hayes.

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