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Stranded man who feared arrest found dead after 5 days of searching

In March of this year 2019 photo provided by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office shows a vehicle belonging to Ryan Long in near Happy Jack, Ariz. Long, 38, who probably died from exposure while stranded in Arizona would have survived, if he had not refused assistance, because he was afraid to be arrested, authorities said Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (Coconino County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

PHOENIX – A man who probably died from exposure while stranded in Arizona would have survived, if he had not refused assistance, because he was afraid to be arrested, authorities said Tuesday.

Ryan Long, 38, died a few days after the authorities found his friend, Reelaiah Ahasteen, 35, at a different location in the snowy and muddy conditions, Coconino County sheriff’s officials said.

The two had gone to the Meteor Crater, a popular tourist site east of Flagstaff, on March 7, when their vehicle got stuck, authorities said, citing information from Ahasteen’s mother.

They tried to locate them, and then notified authorities when they could not.

A representative may contact Long on his mobile, but he refused to give any details about his location.

“There were some general statements that he does not want or need our help, and then he hung on,” sheriff’s spokesman Rex Gilliland said.

Deputies said they later learned that it has Long been thought that he might have an arrest warrant and wanted to avoid enforcement of the law.

“It is clear that had he not made the decisions to avoid, we would have found him Friday afternoon with her,” Gilliland said.

Long was found with two substances suspected marijuana and methamphetamine, Gilliland said.

The sheriff’s office said Long of Leupp has had run-ins with the authorities in the past, but could not find any active warrants for him.

Searchers found Ahasteen hypothermic on a forest road, the day after they stranded. She was treated and released.

The air and on the ground search teams have the next three days looking for signs of Long or his car.

On March 11, search and rescue volunteers found his body from a forest road, only 2 miles (3 km) from the place where his friend had saved. His footprints indicated that he had to avoid roads, deputies said.

His cause of death is pending, but the delegates believe that he died as a result of exposure to cold temperatures.

Family members told deputies that Long had sustained a traumatic brain injury in the past.

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