CALIFORNIA hiker hobbles out of forest one week after he was reported missing

Wednesday, July 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SONORA, Calif. (AP) _ A hiker limped out of the Stanislaus National Forest with two injured ankles, one week after he was reported missing.

Eric Tucker, 28, said he fell about 40 feet after losing his trail on the first day of his hike, but stayed put until he gained the strength to find his way out of the forest Tuesday, said Judy Villalobos, Tuolumne General Hospital spokeswoman.

Villalobos said Tucker may have broken both his ankles, was dehydrated and had an elevated blood pressure.

``He knew how to handle himself and kept his wits about him,'' Villalobos said.

Tucker had packed food and a water purifier when he set off for his hike June 27. Authorities had searched for Tucker since he was reported missing July 3 after not reporting from his solo camping trip.

A military helicopter aiding in Tucker's search went down Sunday near Granite Dome in the Emigrant Wilderness. Five crew members on board the helicopter from Nevada's Fallon Naval Air Station were not seriously injured. The cause of the crash is under investigation