Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Cindy Glasson
Reporter & Photographer 

Hunter missing five days found safe


Tragedy was averted this weekend as two hunters located 82-year old Wayne Hockaday who had been missing since Wednesday.

Hockaday left a note at his residence saying he was going hunting last Wednesday afternoon. When he had not returned after dark, the Sheriff’s Department was notified and Hot Springs County Search and Rescue activated.

Search and rescue were out overnight on Wednesday, searching the Black Mountain area where Hockaday was believed to have gone.

When he was not located that night, the Civil Air Patrol was called in out of Powell and sector searches by air began.

With no real idea where on Black Mountain Hockaday may have gone hunting, and knowing he deals with some disorientation, Washakie County’s Search and Rescue joined in, covering areas on the other side of the Hot Springs County line.

Hunters in the area were asked to keep a lookout for Hockaday and his truck and a few times, hopes were raised, thinking his brown Chevy had been spotted, only to discover it wasn’t his truck after all.

The search continued through Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

Hockaday was found Sunday, just before 2 p.m. by brothers Fred and Robert John who were in town hunting over the weekend. The John’s both grew up in Thermopolis and know the area well.

The brothers had driven down Black Mountain Road, turning on the Big Hole BLM road before going east about five miles across the ridges. They spotted Hockaday about a quarter of a mile away, and Fred John said they saw him signaling them before he dropped to the ground.

“He was very dehydrated and exhausted,” John said. “He had just enough energy to stand for us to see him before going down.”

John said Hockaday was able to talk and take in water, even telling them where he lived.

The brothers loaded him in their truck and drove over Wild Horse Ridge Road onto Buffalo Creek.

Hockaday was taken to Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital via ambulance, but was only kept a few hours before being allowed to return home.

“He’s a very strong and courageous man,” John said. “I’m sure he’ll have a good story to tell.”


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