Missing hiker, 86, found alive after four days in the wild

An 86-year-old man who went missing last week after setting off alone on a hike in eastern Manitoba has been found alive.

HADASHVILLE, Man. — An 86-year-old man who went missing last week after setting off alone on a hike in eastern Manitoba has been found alive.

RCMP searchers on all-terrain vehicles located Joseph Kuz on Monday morning in a heavily-wooded swamp within the search area near Hadashville, east of Winnipeg.

“He was dehydrated and cold and wet of course from that many nights and days in the bush by himself without shelter, but other than that he reported to be very well,” RCMP Const. Miles Hiebert said.

According to Kuz’s nephew, Myron Lamaga, Kuz was dropped off on the Trans-Canada Highway on Thursday and was planning to walk to Lamaga’s cabin. But Lamaga said his uncle was dropped in the wrong place and missed the road.

Lamaga says his uncle used to trap and was experienced in the bush, so he decided to head overland to the cabin.

“He didn’t hit any of my roads and he just went cross-country, which is rugged and the water was over his knees. He said he fell down about 20 times and then finally just got exhausted and holed up in a little drier spot among the cedars,” Lamaga explained.

“He wasn’t far from my cornfields and my road. He was only about a third-of-a-mile. He was right on course. But he just got exhausted.”

Lamaga said his uncle was cold. It rained Thursday night. The next night there was a frost, and it was cold Saturday and Sunday nights, too. Kuz could see a helicopter searching for him, but he was too weak to run out into the swampy clearing.

Kuz was taken by ambulance to hospital in Ste. Anne, Man., where he’s being kept for observation.

“He told the ambulance driver the story of his life on the 45 minute drive. He was very talkative. He was thirsty — understandable, four days with no food or water,” Kuz said.

“He figured that he couldn’t last much longer and one more night would’ve done him in.”

Kuz is the second Manitoba senior in less than a week to be found alive after spending multiple nights alone in the bush. On Friday morning, searchers found 66-year-old Nadia Monaco, who got separated from friends two days earlier while picking berries and mushrooms near Belair Provincial Forest, northeast of Winnipeg.

Monaco was diabetic and searchers admitted their hopes of finding her alive was fading. But Monaco had taken shelter in an abandoned shed, used wires to wrap some paper around herself to keep warm. She also ate the mushrooms she had picked, and drank rain water from the ground.

Searchers for Hiebert and Kuz included RCMP, the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner, Department of Natural Resources, and local firefighters and volunteers.

Hiebert said the searchers for both missing seniors did an excellent job.