on Wednesday, at approximately 4:10 p.m., the Pima County Sheriff’s Department received a 9-1-1 call reference a hiker who had failed to return on time to the Sabino Canyon Recreation area. The missing man was identified as Florencio Gallego.
Gallego started hiking from the Sabino Canyon Recreational area at around 3:30 a.m. His plan was to hike to Seven Falls and then return to his vehicle and meet his wife at approximately 2 p.m. The last known contact with him was via telephone at approximately 11:30 a.m., when he called his wife and said he should be back to his vehicle at 2 p.m. It is unknown where he was when he made the phone call. When he failed to show up within a reasonable amount of time, she called the Sheriff’s Department. There was concern about Gallego’s condition due to prevalent mountain lion activity in the area and him only taking two pints of water with him when he started his hike.
The Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Unit began a search immediately in the area he was last known to be in. Search efforts continued until 2 a.m. and then resumed at day break this morning. There were extensive ground and air searches conducted utilizing a variety of tools including rescue canines, horses, and a mule team. There were search volunteers from multiple agencies in addition to the Sheriff’s Department including: DPS Ranger Air Support, Customs Air Support, Southern Arizona Rescue Association, Southern Arizona Mounted Search and Rescue, Southern Arizona Rescue Dogs, Northwest Fire Tactical Rescue Team, BORSTAR, Search and Rescue personnel from Maricopa, Pinal and Cochise Counties, Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers, US Forest Service Fire and the National Parks Service. All together there were approximately 60 people involved in this search effort.
Gallego was located off trail in the area of Hutch’s Pool. He had hiked to Seven Falls as planned, then continued past that location eventually becoming disoriented. Gallego was exhausted and had minor dehydration. He remained in that location planning on trying to hike out when he felt stronger. When he heard searchers in the area he blew a whistle he had brought with him and led the rescuers to his location. Gallego suffered only minor injuries and was treated on scene.