While many local, national and international individuals vie for the opportunity to hike the lottery-only Wave, there have been increasing hiker accidents in the past several years. One occurred over the weekend, when a 62 year-old California man was fortunately discovered by local GSENM geologist James Holland.

The May 3 incident occurred when a Wave hiker was discovered overdue in the late afternoon. The permit, which is to be left with the hiker’s vehicle in the parking lot, was checked Saturday afternoon, and indicated the individual had the permit for a Friday hike.

Calls were made in an attempt to verify the missing hiker’s identity, but that proved to be difficult. The hiker hadn’t actually won the permit – his friend had.

The gentleman had rented a car, so the BLM had to verify the contents were in fact his before they could begin the search. Dispatch was notified, and the Kane County Search and Rescue was called Saturday evening. Some volunteers camped at nearby trailheads to begin their search at first light on May 4. Others met at the SAR building on Sunday morning. John Jorgensen went up in the DPS helicopter on Saturday night until about 1 a.m., and resumed on Sunday morning. There were 11 volunteers searching on foot, and five riders on horseback. 

Holland located the individual on Sunday at approximately 11:30 a.m. southwest of the Wave, and the man was life-flighted to a Flagstaff hospital in serious condition. He remained under intensive care on Monday.

It was a miracle that he was found! Holland could have walked through the rocky maze with multiple ledges several ways; luck chose his path. Holland noticed the man Search and Rescue was searching for when looking over his shoulder and seeing him crumpled up in a bush where he landed after falling about 30 feet from a ledge. Holland helped the diabetic patient drink some water and orange juice.