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U.S. tourist rescued in the Galapagos; Talks planned on how to dissuade elderly visitors from risky pursuits

An 81-year-old U.S. tourist was found Sunday afternoon on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos following an 18-hour search. The man had made a cell phone call to the island’s emergency 911 center on Saturday afternoon to say that he was lost.

An elderly U.S. tourist was rescued Sunday after he became lost on Santa Cruz Island.

According to rescue workers, the man, whose identity was not released, was found in a remote area near the crater of the El Chato volcano at the center of Santa Cruz Island. He was brought to the hospital in Puerto Ayora where he was treated for dehydration and minor cuts and bruises.

According to the Puerto Ayora emergency rescue service, six firefighters, eight park rangers, three police officers and a naturalist guide participated in the search.

The rescue is the latest in a series of cases of elderly foreign tourists requiring search and rescue and medical services following misadventures in Ecuador. On December 1, a 74-year-old British tourist was rescued from the Cayambe volcano glacier in Pichincha Province. In another case, a 77-year-old Australian had to be airlifted with broken bones from the Chimborazo volcano in late December after he wiped out on a downhill bicycle run.

The ministry of tourism and national 911 emergency center officials have called a meeting for early February to formulate a public information campaign aimed at elderly tourists.

“We see too many foreigners of advanced years attempting feats, such as mountain climbing, that are beyond their abilities and we need to provide information warning them of the dangers,” said 911 system regional director Juan Miller. “We love having them visit Ecuador but they need to understand that rescue missions are dangerous and expensive and that they put many people at risk when they require our services. They need to consider their physical limitations.”

13 thoughts on “U.S. tourist rescued in the Galapagos; Talks planned on how to dissuade elderly visitors from risky pursuits

  1. 2 people I know had to be rescued after hiking in the Rockies, roughly 10 years ago. The cost of the helicopters, etc; came to $4,000 per hour, for 5 hours. If you think you may wander off, or become lost, bring your checkbook. Staying home, and watching Nat’l Geographic shows might suit you better.

    1. The rescuee should be required to pay the entire bill. These old fools should not be allowed to go anywhere without a guide.

      1. Have elderly pay into an insurance fund to take care of the costs – so many many more young fools out there. The rate of accidents and deaths due to bad driving, for instance. These ‘old fools’ may be, yet young drivers cause thousands of deaths and thousands of injuries and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage. Allow elderly to pursue what they want with the proper precautions and guidance. They, also, shod be allowed to experience the Galapagos and not on the National Geographic channel.

        1. Everyone in Ecuador pays into an insurance fund to take care of the costs. It’s called taxes.Rescue services and medical care are a human right in Ecuador, not just another type of merchandise available to the market.

      2. You aren’t allowed to be within the National Park without a guide. That doesn’t stop people from doing it anyway.

  2. The bike accident may have had nothing to do with age. Getting lost in an area where you shouldn’t be hiking without a guide is stupidity, not senility

    1. That’s a sweet idea Cathy and it makes us old folks feel good. On the other hand there isn’t any doubt that we lose physical ability and mental acuity as we get older. It’s God’s plan whether we like it or not. Emergency worker have better things to do than rescue old farts who deny the fact that they’re old farts.

      1. That would go under the heading of ‘the stories we tell ourselves’ good story, but, not correct in any way…

  3. Was other North American as glad as I was to learn not all these elderly tourists came from N. America! Whew. More fuel to bash expats/gringos averted!
    The issue of realizing your limitations with age is huge.

    1. …..along with realizing your strengths – with age. You forgot that part. Should young children not be allowed in the park??

  4. There’s already plenty technology avaliable. Maybe the emergency centers should invest in some emergency beacon transmitters and required the “older adventurers.” to rent them as part of the permit process. Drones can be launched to intercept distress signals and relay the location, as well as, stream live video of the situation. Rescuers can then determine what’s needed before ever leaving.
    Make us pay dearly, but don’t shut us down just for having white hair.

    1. This guy didn’t have a permit to be where he was and drones are prohibited everywhere in the Galapagos National Park. Soon after they hit the market, they learned that frigate birds can’t resist attacking them.

      BTW, young people need rescuing out here all the time as well. Don’t let the selective reporting fool you into thinking you’re getting the whole picture. The largest search and rescue in recent months here was a 28-year-old local who got lost walking home drunk from a bar in the highlands of Santa Cruz. It 4 days before he was finally found.

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