Missing hiker Cody Michael and his dog have been found “alive and well,” according to Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
Cody Michael, 23, and his German Shepherd, Bauer, were spotted about 10 a.m. in the Cherry Point area by a Black Hawk helicopter pilot and its crew.
“Words don’t describe it, emotions do,” Michael’s father, Howard, told KCRA. “(I) spent a good amount of time with him. It was an incredible father-son moment.”
In an unbelievable coincidence, Cody Michael was found 72 hours to the minute after sending his last text to his family.
The Black Hawk pilot and crews said they saw Cody Michael about 1.2 miles northeast of where the American River meets Big Granite Creek. The crew saw Cody Michael first, then he saw them and started waving.
“I jumped up on the highest point that I could and started swinging some stuff around that I had set up and it worked,” Cody Michael said. “They saw me and they came down.”
Cody Michael also used duct tape to spell “HELP” on a rock above his campsite. The helicopter crew hoisted Cody Michael and Bauer into the chopper. They said he was “in good spirits and just wanted to shake their hands.”
Cody Michael was “looking great” and had no injuries, although he was still taken to Sutter Roseville Medical Center to be medically checked, according to the sheriff’s office, which tweeted a video of Bauer walking with one its deputies, as well as a photo of Cody Michael smiling.
He was initially going to be flown directly to the hospital, but Cody Michael was more hungry than hurt, so crews made a stop at the search command center to get him some food.
“They told us they were going to fly him to the hospital, and then we heard they were bringing him here, to the command post,” Howard Michael said. “That’s how good he was.”
Cody Michael and Bauer went camping Sunday near Loch Leven Trail in Placer County but didn’t return home Monday as planned. He said as he started to head out of the area, he took one wrong turn after another.
“Yesterday was when I just set up camp and said, ‘I’m either going to die here or they’re going to come get me,’” Cody Michael said. “Because I couldn’t really move much more.”
Howard Michael spoke to KCRA on Wednesday and said that his son is very driven and in great shape to endure the outdoors. Faith is what was keeping their family strong.
“All of my kids share in the same faith, and my son who is lost, I’m sure he’s expressed these kinds of thoughts and prayers wherever he is, and that’s what gets us through this,” Howard Michael said.
The search for Cody Michael was ramped up Thursday morning in anticipation of some rough weather scheduled to move into the Sierra by Friday.
About 30 to 40 people gathered Wednesday to search for Michael, in addition to two California National Guard Black Hawk helicopters and crews with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office released a video Wednesday afternoon that Cody Michael had sent to his family via text message on Monday, adding that he would be leaving the area by noon. That was the last time anyone heard from him — until Thursday.