Missing hikers found

(Toadstool Park)

A Lincoln man in his late 50s and his teenage son can thank their digital camera for saving them from a cold and damp overnight stay after they got lost Thursday in the Toadstool Park area northwest of Crawford.

Dawes County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Swickard says the pair...wearing just T-shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes...went hiking at the park in the afternoon, but failed to return as scheduled. When they were 3 hours later, their wife and mother called authorities about 9 pm.

Since Toadstool Park is in Sioux County, Sheriff Lyle Staudenmaier responded from Harrison but stopped in Crawford en route and met up with Swickard and Crawford Fire Chief Brian Prosser to organize a search with 2 other deputies and members of the fire department.

Swickard says they began searching from the parking lot at Toadstool Park about 10:00 in a circular grid pattern with teams of 4 covering about 5 miles on foot. After about 2 hours of searching, a team of firefighters reported seeing small flashes of light in the distance at the point of a canyon.

Searchers investigated and discovered it was the father and son using the flash of their digital camera as a flashlight to try to find their way in the dark. Chief Prosser brought them back to the staging area where EMTs determined they'd suffered nothing more than bumps and bruises.

Deputy Swickard says the men had gotten turned around during a thunderstorm and instead of looping back to the Toadstool Park entrance, they eventually walked about 3-miles toward the Hudson-Meng bison bonebed Education and Research Center.

After thanking their rescuers and being cleared by the EMTs, the family loaded up their vehicle, returned to Crawford for fuel, and headed north to Hot Springs.

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