PORT ANGELES — A 71-year-old man missing since Wednesday was found Saturday about one-third of a mile north of his home on Dan Kelly Road after a horde of searchers combed the heavily wooded area for days.Isaac Rivas was found alive but suffering from hypothermia, said his daughter, Solana Rivas, who had flown into the area from Los Angeles on Thursday morning after a call from other family members.
“This entire time, I’ve been wearing his Vietnam tags around my neck and I just knew he wasn’t dead,” she said Saturday after her father, a veteran who had earned a Purple Heart, was found mid-afternoon Saturday.
“The search and rescue teams that have been organized here for the last three days have been absolutely incredible,” she said. “I don’t know what we would have done without them.”
“Without them, we wouldn’t have found him.”
Rivas said that friends and relatives had raised money to feed and help the 30 to 40 volunteers who spread out to seek her father. She planned to donate the money — several thousand dollars, she said — to search-and-rescue teams.
“The Clallam Sheriff’s Department and Sgt. (John) Keegan organized an incredible, absolutely fantastic search and rescue,” she said.
“The fact that everyone took it so seriously — they didn’t know my dad — I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” she said, choking up. “His entire neighborhood pulled together, started Facebook groups …
“People are good.”
Neither she nor Keegan nor Sgt. Shaun Minks of the Clallam County Sheriff’s office knew if Rivas was injured or how he had become missing when they spoke immediately after he was found mid-afternoon on Saturday.
Fire department medics were with him, Keegan said, at about 4 p.m. Saturday, preparing to bring him to an ambulance wating to take him to get more medical care.
Rivas was home with his grandson, Ryan, when he disappeared from his residence in the 1600 block of Dan Kelly Road west of Port Angeles at about 11 a.m., according to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office.
He did not tell Ryan he was leaving or take his cell phone, wallet or his car, said his daughter, which was unusual behavior.
However, he had lived in the woods for many years and often backpacked on the many trials in the area. It wasn’t until later that Ryan became very worried and after searching the 5 1/2-acre property, called emergency dispatchers at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’re very grateful for the amount of response we got from search-and-rescue teams throughout the (Olympic) Peninsula,” Keegan said.
The numbers of volunteers had swelled each day until on Saturday about 40 searchers, including nine K9 teams, were out looking for Rivas, Keegan said.
Rescue teams — all unpaid volunteers — showed up from Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason and Pierce counties and elsewhere in the state, Keegan said, adding that one dog team came form Bothell.
“We are getting a lot of these on their own time and their own dime to come over and help,” Keegan said.
Family friend Jovita Carpenter of Seattle who came to area on Thursday to lend a hand, said relatives had come from all over when they heard the news.
“No one gave up hope and the search-and-rescue people were beyond wonderful,” Carpenter said.
As a last resort, Solana said she consulted a psychic, who advised they look higher. She told the sergeants.
“So they looked high” and found him, she said.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.