Satellite surfer saves lost hiker in forest using Google Earth
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but in the case of René Compean, his hairy-legged selfie actually saved his life. This happened when the solo hiker lost his bearings after taking a wrong turn deep in Angeles National Forest. Dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, Compean had only packed his bags for a two-hour hike, but with temperatures dropping rapidly and his phone battery dying, he was in desperate need of help.
He climbed the side of the mountain, checking his cell reception along the way until miraculously, only one bar appeared. This is the moment when he took the most important selfie of his life.
“SOS. My phone is going to die. I’m lost, ”Compean typed to a friend. He sent two photos of his location, but only one passed – the blurry selfie of his legs hanging over an undescriptive landscape.
Alarmed, the friend immediately sent the photo to the police who searched the area but had to withdraw after dark. As Compean spent the night in a tree with mountain lions and bears prowling below, police tweeted the selfie to ask the public for help.
Now if someone accuses you of have too much free time, simply point them in the direction of Ben Kuo, the satellite surfer who spends his free time scouring Google Earth to locate places where random photos and movie scenes have been taken. “I’ve always liked looking for where the photos are taken,” Kuo said. After meeting the police tweet he thought to himself, “I bet I could find this place.”
Using what little information the police provided in their tweet, Kuo jumped into his captain’s chair and pulled out a satellite map of Buckhorn Campground. Analyzing the vegetation in Compean’s photo, he quickly began to draw conclusions. “I realized it had to be on the south side because there aren’t really any green valleys on the north side,” he explained. “By entering the time and date the photo was taken, you can compare the view in Google Earth,” Kuo said. “They matched.”
Feeling confident in his search, Kuo contacted the police with a compelling argument. The next day, a rescue team gassed his helicopter and headed for the coordinates Kuo had deciphered from the selfie. Much to everyone’s surprise, the location was perfect.
Fortunately, Compean was recovered with only minor injuries, although he admits it probably wouldn’t have lasted another day. While more than 2,000 hikers get lost each year, only one was picked up by a stranger (with an even stranger hobby) from his home office 60 miles away. We don’t expect this to happen again anytime soon. So the next time you decide to hit the great outdoors, be sure to bring a map and a selfie stick, and hopefully James Franco won’t be making a movie about when you step in. are lost in the woods.
Cover photo: René Compean (Twitter)
Visit the Mandatory shop for good deals on your own obligatory merch.