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Contact: Roxanne Dey, (702) 293-8947
At about 6 a.m. today, the National Park Service Dispatch Center received a call from a friend of 42-year-old George Orozco of Las Vegas. The friend told Park Rangers that Orozco had come out to the Callville Bay area on the Nevada side of Lake Mead to go boating and camping yesterday (Saturday, July 22) with friends. At about 1 a.m. early this morning (Sunday, July 23), Orozco walked away from the group and became lost in the desert without water. At about
3 a.m. Orozco called a friend on his cell phone and told him he was lost near Callville Bay. The friend came out to Callville Bay to try to locate Orozco. When the friend could not locate Orozco or the other members of the boating/camping party, he called Park Rangers for help.
The extreme heat of at least 117 degrees at Lake Mead today was a chief concern of rescue personnel. The National Park Service pilot and fixed-wing aircraft were immediately called into service to try to locate Orozco. At about 10:30 a.m., the friend was able to reach Orozco one last time on his cell phone. Orozco told his friend he was on a big rock in the desert and that he was hot and tired. Park Rangers called in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Search and Rescue Team to assist with the search. One of Metro’s helicopters and Search and Rescue Teams was dispatched to try and help Park Rangers locate Orozco. Additionally, a National Park Service Interagency Fire Crew and Helicopter joined efforts to locate the man.
At about 5 p.m. National Park Service Rangers and Special Agents were able to reach one of the members of the original party. The woman told rangers they had left from Callville Bay and were somewhere north of the marina of the Nevada side of the lake. At about 5:30 p.m., NPS Special Agents were finally able to get more accurate information about where the group was when Orozco left the group. The party was actually on the Arizona side of Lake Mead when Orozco started walking in the desert. An Interagency Fire Crew and Helicopter immediately began searching the Arizona side of Lake Mead. Within 15 minutes of receiving accurate information about which state Orozco was actually last seen, he was spotted by the Fire Helicopter. At about 6:55 p.m., Orozco was picked up by an NPS Ranger boat and transported by park medics for an evaluation. He was dehydrated but otherwise okay.
Park Superintendent Bill Dickinson said, “We are relieved we were able to find Mr. Orozco alive after an exhaustive 13-hour search by air, water, and land patrols. In the extreme heat of the desert today, Mr. Orozco is lucky to be alive. We want to stress to all visitors the importance of knowing where you are on Lakes Mead and Mohave. It is vital to know where you launched your vessel from, and if you are on the Nevada or Arizona side, of one of our lakes.
Once we had accurate information, we were able to find Mr. Orozco in 15 minutes. Today we had a happy ending to this search and rescue – that is not always the case. Rescuers wasted more than 12 hours looking on the Nevada side of Lake Mead because they were given inaccurate information. We hope all visitors can learn from mistakes like this. Know at least the general area of where you are in the park, so Park Rangers can find you.”