Gem County riders whose tip led to rescue of Hannah Anderson tell their story

Idaho StatesmanAugust 11, 2013 

— The Gem County horseback riders whose report sparked an intense manhunt in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness that culminated Saturday with the shooting death of kidnapper James DiMaggio and the rescue of 16-year-old Hannah Anderson will be publicly identified this afternoon.

Two men and two women have agreed to be interviewed during a press conference to take place at the Ada County Sheriff's Office.

They were was riding horses near Morehead Lake inside the wilderness when they came upon a man and teenage girl on foot on Wednesday afternoon. He exchanged pleasantries with the pair, who were carrying camping gear.

They didn't realize until they returned home that night that a national Amber Alert had been issued for DiMaggio and Hannah. After seeing photos of the pair on televised news stories, he called the national Amber Alert hotline to report his encounter.

On Friday, authorities discovered DiMaggio's blue 2013 Nissan Versa parked at a trailhead a few miles west of where DiMaggio and Hannah were spotted by the horseman. The car was hidden under brush and had its license plates removed but authorities were able to confirm it was DiMaggio's through its vehicle identification number.

Authorities combed a 300-square-mile section of the 2.4 million-acre wilderness. On Saturday, DiMaggio and Hannah were spotted from a plane near the lake. Smoke from forest fires made it difficult to see the pair consistently and to fly safely.

Two FBI hostage rescue teams were sent in. The steep terrain forced helicopters to drop the teams on the ground away from the lake. It took the two teams two hours to hike the rugged ground and reach DiMaggio's camp.

Once the teams had surrounded the camp, they waited until DiMaggio and Hannah were separated. They moved in and escorted the girl to safety. One of the FBI agents shot and killed DiMaggio.

Authorities did not say whether they gave DiMaggio the chance to give himself up. They also did not disclose whether he shot at agents.

Hannah was taken to a "local" hospital to be checked out, but authorities would not identify the hospital. This morning, neither St. Luke's Boise Medical Center or St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise would say whether they were treating her.

Hannah's father, Brett Anderson, was expected to arrive in Idaho today and be reunited with his daughter. His wife, Christina, 42, and son Ethan, 8, were found dead last Sunday in DiMaggio's burned home in east San Diego County in California.

Authorities on Saturday praised the Gem County horseman, saying his tip was the key to finding Hannah and bringing her to safety.

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