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Richmond veterinarian’s family, colleagues eagerly await hiker’s return from Montana rescue

Posted at 6:12 PM, Oct 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-10-16 12:52:12-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--The folks at Broad Street Vet told us the light above the front desk wouldn't go out until Dr. Jason Hiser came home.  Well now Dr. Hiser will be able to  turn it off himself.

He was found alive and well in Glacier National Park after braving the elements for almost a week.

Denise Germann, with Glacier National Park, said that they have no injuries and have been flown out of the back country, to reunite with their family. 

Dr. Hiser, age 32, was hiking with Neal Peckens, 32, of Northern Virginia. They were reported missing on Friday after missing their flight back home, after three days of hiking a 17-mile loop on the east side of Glacier National Park last Tuesday.

When they didn't make their flight, their families sounded the alarm. 

Peckens and Hiser met at Virginia Tech while both were studying to become veterinarians. They both love hiking. 

“I like to do a lot of hiking myself,” said Hiser’s friend Neal Flowers.  “And every night that passed where they went without being found,” he paused.  “You know, I'm an engineer, so I think stats, and the stats caused my concern to grow a lot more."

Search crews encountered five-foot snow drifts and fresh snow 18-inches deep. Late Sunday they came across an extinguished camp fire and fresh tracks, igniting hope that the Virginia hikers were still alive.

“I hear they were well and able to hike out with rangers,” said Rose.  “I'm just in disbelief."

 Monday afternoon, Hiser and Peckens were both found alive and well.  Hiser’s family in Richmond was elated but asked for privacy.

It was without a doubt the best ending possible, one many clients and employees at Broad Street Vet had hoped and prayed for.

“Just a great feeling,” said Rose.  “Just knowing they're alive and he'll be back with all of us."

Hiser was hailed as a caring and compassionate animal doctor.  His friend Todd Flowers, a nuclear engineer for Dominion Power tells me he vividly remembers when his dog Chutney had to have a tumor removed the day of last summer’s  earthquake.

Hiser, knowing Flowers’ line of work, and that Flowers was likely to be very busy in the quake’s aftermath, offered to care for Chutney while he was away.