Missing Father of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Found Unharmed

The man's son reported his father missing after he didn't return from a Saturday morning hike

By Andrew Lopez
|  Sunday, Jan 26, 2014  |  Updated 11:55 PM PDT
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A former Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who went missing while hiking in the Angeles National Forest was found safe near a cliff ridge. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014.

A former Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who went missing while hiking in the Angeles National Forest was found safe near a cliff ridge. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014.

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An 85-year-old former Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who went missing while hiking in the Angeles National Forest near Wrightwood on Saturday has been found unharmed, officials said.

Four search and rescue teams and two helicopters were searching for Donald Buchanan Sunday morning, according to a watch commander with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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One of those search and rescue teams heard a faint whistle from across a ravine around 10:30 a.m. while searching a trail near Mt. Baden Powell peak in the Angeles National Forest. The team was able to call out and talk to Buchanan, who said he was uninjured, authorities said.

"I had a feeling he probably made it to past his destination, got stuck on a ledge, and then it became dark, and he was smart enough to just stay put," said Mike Leum, of LA County Sheriff’s Montrose Station.

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A helicopter was used to get to Buchanan, who was found near a cliff ridge. A paramedic treated Buchanan for mild hypothermia from the chilly overnight conditions. 

Buchanan was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital for evaluation and treatment, officials said.

"Sounds like he's in great shape, and on the way back in the helicopter he was making jokes with the air crew," Leum said. "So, a pretty incredible individual."

When Buchanan didn’t return home from his Saturday morning hike, his son -- a current deputy -- drove by the Vincent Gap area and found his father’s vehicle still parked at the trailhead, authorities said.

The deputy reported his father missing around 8 p.m.

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Rescue workers said Buchanan is an experienced hiker and is in excellent health, but his age and amount of time he was missing was a dangerous combination.

"It still gets very cold at night and we have to be very concerned about hypothermia, especially at his age," said John Johnston of the Antelope Valley Search and Rescue team.

An aerial search was launched at first light on Sunday.

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