They thought they were being pestered by spammers.
Spam phone calls are a big nuisance these days. I think in the last three months or so, out of the maybe 20 times my phone has rung, I’ve actually picked up around twice. Every single other time was from a number I didn’t recognize, and if I was bored enough to pick up, it was always some robot hocking me nonsense about student loans or pretending to be the IRS. It’s because this problem is so widespread that people are far less trusting of random numbers on their phone, which led to a bit of a problem recently in the mountains of Colorado.
A hiker, whose name has been withheld from the press, ventured into the Colorado mountains on October 18, but accidentally strayed off the path and got themselves lost. When Lake County Search and Rescue was deployed to locate the hiker, they attempted to call the hiker’s cell phone in order to determine their safety and whereabouts. The good news is that the hiker had their cell phone on them. The bad news is, because the Search and Rescue calls were coming from a number the hiker didn’t recognize, they screened all of them.
— New York Post (@nypost) October 25, 2021
The search continued for a full 24 hours, before finally being called off after the hiker found their way back down the mountain and to their car. According to the report from officials, the hiker “lost the trail around nightfall and spent the night searching for the trail, and once on the trail, bounced around onto different trails trying to locate the proper trailhead.” The hiker wasn’t even aware Search and Rescue were looking for them until well after the fact.
“One notable take-away is that the subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number,” officials said. “If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a SAR team trying to confirm you’re safe!”