SEBRING - A man has been found dead after getting lost along a Sun'n Lake nature trail, authorities say.
Sebring man Ronald Bernard Fernandez,61, called emergency services at 3:46 on Sunday afternoon, telling dispatchers that he began his walk along the trail around 1 p.m., but couldn't find his way through the trail.
Highland County Sheriff's deputies used location pings of Fernandez's phone to discover that he had been moving throughout the park, though he was told by dispatch to stay in one location.
Fernandez called 911 multiple times, but told dispatchers that he wanted to preserve his phone battery and kept disconnecting, according to HCSO officials.
His last contact with 911 dispatchers was at 6:13 on Sunday evening.
Teaming up with Polk County Sheriff's Office, HSCO deputies used four-wheelers, K-9 units, air units and more than a dozen deputies to find Fernandez.
At 8:24 p.m., the search led to shallow water, where a Polk County helicopter found Fernandez's body approximately 300 yards away from the last known location of his phone.
"“It was 90 degrees and very humid yesterday. It doesn’t take a long time out in that heat to get dehydrated and disoriented, so the best idea is to conserve energy," Sheriff's Paul Blackman said. "We have all kind of ways of finding you, but it will be a much quicker process if you are in one spot instead of moving around.”
“Our hearts go out to Mr. Fernandez’s family,” Sheriff Blackman said. “I know everyone involved in the search did their best trying to make this situation have a happy ending."
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