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.
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.”