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Dave Ross

Idaho’s wilderness security system

ADA County paramedics and other authorities offload at the Cascade Emergency Operations Center in Cascade, Idaho, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013. About 150 federal agents have converged on Idaho's Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in the search for 16-year-old Hannah Anderson and her suspected abductor, 40-year-old James Lee DiMaggio. (AP Photo/Robby Milo)

Teenager Hannah Anderson is safe and her kidnapper James Lee DiMaggio is dead.

And it’s thanks to this guy, “I’m Mark John, former Gem County Sheriff, retired army officer, Army Rangers.”

Mark John and his wife were on horseback in the Idaho mountains with another couple when they noticed a man and a girl who clearly weren’t from around there.

“Because in the back country in Idaho, you run across somebody back there hiking, they’re usually quite friendly,” described John. “They exchange knowledge about where they’ve been, what they’ve done, where they were going. These people did not want to talk to us whatsoever.”

And they had a cat with them.

“I made a comment, ‘What are you doing with a cat in here? Them cats are only good to chum a wolf in, or to bring in a mountain lion,'” said John.

As they left, the girl made a strange remark, “We started riding away and then she says it looks like ‘we’re all in trouble in now,’ or ‘we’re in real trouble now.'”

But as unusual as all that was, by itself, it wouldn’t be enough for them to call the cops, or suspect anything worse than just another Californian who had no idea what he was doing.

Until they got home and turned on the television.

“The Amber Alert was on the television, and I told my wife, ‘that is that girl we seen on the mountain,'” said John.

Sometimes guardian angels don’t have wings – they’re on horseback. And used to be in the army. And may not even realize they’re guardian angels – until they turn on the TV.

Read more:
Chance encounter in Idaho wilderness led to rescue
What is that horrifying alert that came out of your phone?
Timeline of California killings and abduction

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About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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