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California man dies while searching for missing son in New Mexico

By Jonathan Kaminsky

(Reuters) - The father of an elk hunter reported missing in rugged terrain in western New Mexico has died while helping in the search, authorities said on Thursday.

Ray Lockhart, 70, collapsed at the Pueblo Creek Campground in the Gila National Forest shortly before noon on Wednesday.

Despite the efforts of emergency personnel to revive the Huntington Beach, California man, he never regained consciousness, said Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez, spokesman for the New Mexico State Police.

"He had returned from a morning outing and was not feeling very well," Gutierrez said. "Things progressively got worse for him."

The search for Lockhart's son, 43-year-old Steven Lockhart, also of Huntington Beach, was suspended Thursday morning after a witness reported seeing a man matching his description walking alongside a nearby state road Tuesday night, Gutierrez said.

No contact has been made with the younger Lockhart, authorities said. He went missing Sunday night after wandering from a campsite in the national forest, about 200 miles southwest of Albuquerque, where he and his father were staying as part of a hunting group.

The search for Lockhart included 23 personnel from the New Mexico State Police, Gila National Forest Law Enforcement and volunteer search and rescue crews, as well as a U.S. Air Force Black Hawk helicopter.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Andre Grenon)

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