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UT: Missing Taylorsville hunter found sleeping after 2 days in tough terrain

October 12, 2010

Missing Taylorsville hunter found sleeping after 2 days in tough terrain

ROOSEVELT - Juanita Drew's first words to her father Monday were fairly straightforward.

"I said, 'You're in trouble,'?" Drew told the Deseret News with a smile on her lips, "and he just got teary-eyed and said, 'I know it.'?"

Ralph Dobbs, 82, of Taylorsville, had just been found by five members of the Duchesne County sheriff's search and rescue team after spending nearly 48 hours wandering around Dry Gulch Canyon north of the town of Mountain Home. Drew and other family members saw him for the first time as he was being transferred from the state Department of Public Safety helicopter to an ambulance that would take him to Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt.

Ralph Dobbs of Taylorsville is wheeled into the emergency room at Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt, Utah after he was found by search and rescue crews Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. Dobbs, 82, was missing in the canyons north of Mountain Home, Duchesne County, for nearly 48 hours.

"He said he tried to get down the hill, but the terrain was too bad," Drew said.

Duchesne County Sheriff Travis Mitchell said five searchers on horseback were in an area known locally as Adams Creek when one of them spotted an orange hat in a field. The men dismounted and began a methodical search. It ended about 12:30 p.m. when one of them saw a small blaze of orange in a heavy stand of brush about 150 yards west of where Dobbs' hat was found.

Mitchell said Dobbs was found lying face up, sleeping.

"He was into some really rough, really thick stuff," the sheriff said. "He was very disoriented. I don't think he would have moved from that spot."

Searchers helped Dobbs walk to their horses, then moved him on horseback to an area where the helicopter could land.

"He started coming around in the helicopter," Mitchell said, noting that crews provided Dobbs with water and some food after finding him.

Dobbs was dressed in relatively warm clothes and had a canteen, the sheriff said, but had no means of starting a fire.

Dobbs, who was in Duchesne County to hunt elk, was last seen about 3 p.m. Saturday, according to Mitchell. He was staying with a friend at the Yellowstone Ranch, the sheriff said. His ATV was found abandoned by his friend Sunday morning in the area of Dry Gulch Canyon.

The sheriff's office first learned Dobbs was missing about 1 p.m. Sunday and began its search.

The incident is not the first time Dobbs has gone missing in the same area, Mitchell said. About six years ago, the sheriff's office was called out to look for Dobbs after he went missing in Dry Gulch Canyon. He was found after he walked out of nearby Yellowstone Canyon.

Drew said her father was suffering from hypothermia when he was found Monday and had numerous abrasions.

"He told us he fell down 19 times," she said. "But he's in real good spirits. He's such an independent person."

As if to reassert his independence, Dobbs has refused to go home with family members, Drew said. Instead, he planned to leave the hospital Tuesday today after a night of observation Monday and return to the ranch to pack his gear and then drive himself home.

"One of our guys told him, 'We've been looking for you. You were lost,'?" Mitchell said. "He replied, 'I'm not lost. I'm still in the United States.'".

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