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Search team finds remains of 82-year-old hiker lost in Madera Canyon in February
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Search team finds remains of 82-year-old hiker lost in Madera Canyon in February

Joe Smallwood

The remains of the 82-year-old hiker who got lost in Madera Canyon in February has been recovered Wednesday morning, an official said.

A 10-person search team in Santa Cruz County found Joe Smallwood after being led to an area where his belongings were found, said Sheriff Tony Estrada.

A hiker found Smallwood's fanny pack near the top of the canyon after becoming lost on Tuesday and agreed to lead the search team to the area around 6 a.m., Estrada said.

Smallwood first reported he was lost on Feb. 5. During the search, Estrada said the last GPS signal picked up from Smallwood's phone was one mile west of Josephine Saddle trail.

But rescue teams were unable to find him after a week-long search. 

Officials reported that the recovery efforts were complicated by weather, including three inches of snow and temperatures as low as 12 degrees, according to Daily Star archives.

About 120 people from 17 or 18 different organizations helped in the initial search, including agencies from Pima, Santa Cruz, Cochise, Pinal, Maricopa, Gila, Yuma, Yavapai and Coconino counties, as well as personnel from Fort Huachuca and with U.S. Border Patrol and volunteers with the Southern Arizona Rescue Association.

The search efforts included helicopters, canines, rescuers on horseback and experienced hikers searching trails and ravines.

The search-and-rescue team is made up of personnel from: Santa Cruz County, Pima County, Cochise County, Pima County Search and Rescue Association Volunteers, Cochise County Rescue Volunteers, Southwest Rescue Dogs and U.S. Border Patrol.

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or

On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1

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Shaq is a public safety reporter and the Road Runner columnist, keeping readers up to date on transportation news. In 2017, he started as an apprentice and later worked part-time until graduating from the UA and being offered a full-time position in 2018.

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