MENA – In a rescue that unfolded almost like a movie plot, missing hiker Joshua McClatchy was found southeast of Mena late Friday night. A search and rescue team headed by Polk County Scott Sawyer found the 37-year-old missing Texan around 11:44 PM.
Reports began surfacing earlier in the evening after a crew aboard a helicopter saw a man on the ground below them flashing a light toward the aircraft. At the time, radio traffic indicated he was crawling on the ground and had limited movement.
After the helicopter was forced to return to Mena Intermountain Airport to refuel, the crew returned to the woods to help guide a ground team to McClatchy’s rescue. Several references were made on the scanner traffic to battling very rough terrain to come to his aid.
McClatchy had texted his mother on Saturday of last week to update her on his travels, then sent a subsequent text hours later saying he was lost along the Buckeye Trail, which spans a remote area in the Ouachita National Forest. His family and friends joined in with law enforcement on a massive search that concluded Friday evening.
McClatchy’s sister, Miranda Balduf told WFAA Television in Dallas that her brother had been excited about the trip for sometime.
““My brother is very smart and was well prepared for this trip. He loves hiking, camping and the outdoors,” Balduf told the station. “He was extremely excited about this trip. He spoke about the trip during all of our conversations for the last month.”
There was no immediate word on his condition at the time of his rescue.