A hiker who set out on Morris County trails Tuesday evening to watch the sun set was found fast asleep by police hours later, authorities said.
Morris County Park Police Officer Anthony Brunone was on a security check around 11:30 p.m. when he spotted a car in the parking lot of Silas Condict Park, well-after the park had closed, the Morris County Sheriff's Office said.
MCSO Detective John Granato turned out with his K-9 partner Spike, a Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd mix, who searched to no avail for 90 minutes.
As Spike was resting around 1 a.m. Wednesday, Granato and Park Police Officer Bryan Petitt trekked up a dirt trail that hadn't been searched yet and noticed traces of a person.
Off one side of the trail is a 60-foot drop down to a pond. On the other side about 20 feet down, Granato spotted a pair of feet and pants in his flashlight beam.
He called out the man’s name, which he found on information left in the vehicle, but got no reply. He tried once more and this time, the man was startled awake.
Granato and Petitt helped the man out of the wooded nook he had fallen asleep in, up the incline to the trail and then back to the parking lot.
The hiker told the officers he went to the park to watch the sunset and fell asleep, never realizing how late it had gotten.
Morris County Park Police Lieutenant Chris List said the driver was examined by the Kinnelon Emergency Medical Squad and driven home.
Granato was grateful the driver was not hurt, as he might have been had he tried to leave the park in the dark and accidentally tumbled down a hill into the pond.
“This search that ended happily is a perfect example of the seamless, mutual aid relationship the Morris County Sheriff’s Office has with the Morris County Park Police," Morris County Sheriff James M. Gannon said.
"While K-9 Spike was resting, the officers showed their concern by continuing their search until the driver was found."
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