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Father, son from Orange County die after hunting trip goes awry

November 02, 2013|By Jeremiah Dobruck

A father and son from Orange County have both died after their hunting trip to New Mexico went tragically awry last month.

The son, Steve Lockhart, 43, of Costa Mesa was separated from the hunting party in Gila National Forest about midnight Oct. 20, according to New Mexico law enforcement officials.

Lockhart died Sunday, shortly after he was found alive a week after he disappeared, according to the Daily Pilot.

Officials had suspended rescue efforts for Lockhart days earlier, calling off the air and ground searches, which involved dozens of personnel, according to New Mexico State Police.

Officials cited "strong evidence" that indicated Lockhart made it to safety on his own, State Police Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said at the time.

But Lockhart was still in the rugged wilderness and suffering from a head injury that appeared to have been caused by a fall, Catron County Undersheriff Ian Fletcher said.

Lockhart was reportedly conscious but speaking incoherently when a second group of hunters stumbled upon him.

"The hunters left to get help, and when officers made it back to him, he had expired," Fletcher said.

Lockhart's father, Ray Lockhart, 70, of Huntington Beach died before his son was found.

Ray Lockhart was at the search-and-rescue base camp when he suffered a heart attack Oct. 23 — the same day the search ended, officials said.

"This has been very tragic for the family," Fletcher said.

The county's medical examiner is working to determine Steve Lockhart's cause of death, Fletcher added.

New Mexico State Police previously said Steve Lockhart was a resident of Huntington Beach, but Catron County sheriff's officials confirmed he lived in Costa Mesa.


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