A double family tragedy has unfolded in the rugged mountains of western New Mexico, where a father and son from Orange County died in separate incidents during a hunting trip, it was reported today.
Stephen Lockhart, 43, of Costa Mesa, and his father, Ray Lockhart, 70, of Huntington Beach, are dead, the Daily Pilot newspaper reported.
Sheriff's deputies at Silver City, N.M. said the father died while a large search and rescue was underway for the son. The younger man died four days after his dad, shortly after being located but before he could be rescued.
Stephen was reported missing on Oct. 20 in the Gila National Forest, southwest of Albuquerque and near the Arizona line. He had become separated at night from the hunting party he was with, authorities told the paper.
The Silver City Sun-News described the terrain as "moderate to steep and rugged" and said overnight temperatures were about 25 degrees.
Mounted horse patrols from as far away as Albuquerque and Arizona, U.S. Broder Patrol trackers, New Mexico State Police and several volunteer search and rescue squads combed the mountains, near Reserve N.M., looking for the man.
After three days, New Mexico officials called off their air and ground search, citing "strong evidence" that the younger Lockhart had made it to safety on his own.
His father suffered a heart attack at the search-and-rescue base camp near Reserve on Oct. 23, the same day the search ended, and died on the way to a hospital.
But four days later, Stephen Lockhart was found by another group of hunters in the mountains, conscious but incoherent.
The hunters left to get help, an undersheriff with the Catron County sheriff's department told the Daily Pilot, but by the time they returned, Lockhart had died.
The undersheriff described the terrain where the younger Lockhart was found as steep and rugged, and said his injuries were consistent with a fall. --City News Service