UPDATE: Authorities recover remains of hiker missing since February

UPDATE: Authorities recover remains of hiker missing since February
Joe Smallwood called 911 from Madera Canyon on Feb. 5. (Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Search and recovery teams on Mt. Hopkins have identified the remains of a hiker missing since February.

According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada, the remains of 83-year-old Joe Smallwood were found on Mt. Hopkins in the Santa Rita Mountains south of Tucson on Wednesday, July 10.

Estrada said a hiker found items belonging to Smallwood in an area that had not been previously searched.

Multiple agencies were part of the original search for Smallwood after he called 911 on the afternoon of Feb. 5 to say he was lost.

“He lost his sense of direction at one point. And family members are claiming he is an experienced hiker," Sgt. Omar Rodriguez, spokesman for the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department, said at the time.

The rescue operation began immediately after Smallwood’s call, but two days later he still had not been found. The search and recovery efforts, hampered by winter weather conditions and steep terrain, were suspended on Feb. 11.

Search and rescue personnel had to contend with winter conditions in Madera Canyon on Feb. 6. (Source: KOLD News 13)
Search and rescue personnel had to contend with winter conditions in Madera Canyon on Feb. 6. (Source: KOLD News 13)

Authorities found Smallwood’s vehicle in the parking lot and used items found in it to give their canines something to track.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office was leading the rescue operation with the help of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Forest Service, Southern Arizona Rescue Association and Green Valley Fire.

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