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Bright idea! Hiker saved by flashlight app

  • Man uses phone to call for help ... as a flashlight
  • Rescuers lowered by helicopter spotted him waving his phone
Bright idea! Hiker saved by flashlight app

The 21st century hiker's list of must-haves: A map, extra food and a cell phone. 

And it's that last item that just might have saved the life of a Maryland man on New Year's Eve. Not only did he use his phone to call 911, he also used an iPhone app that turned the screen into a virtual flashlight so rescuers could find him in near total darkness.

Christopher Tkacik says he and his dog, Boo, got lost while out hiking on northwest Maryland's Catoctin Mountain. After several hours of trying to find his way out of a maze of trails, he called 911.

"I still argue with my wife that I wasn’t lost, but I guess I was," he told HLN affiliate WJZ.

Told to stay in place and wait for help, Tkacik says he loaded up that flashlight app. When a helicopter was overhead, he held up his phone and used it as a virtual beacon to help rescuers locate his position.

Now that is better living through technology.

All told, Tkacik and Boo spent eight hours lost on the mountain. And without his phone and virtual flashlight who knows how much longer they might have remained there.

As it is, not only did Tkacik survive -- but he made it home in time to keep his New Year's plans, too.

"I got home around 9:30. We still went to the party."

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