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APACHE JUNCTION, AZ -- It was discovered Thursday that the hiker found dead near the Lost Dutchman State Park on Tuesday suffered sudden cardiac arrest resulting in his death, according to officials.
Lieutenant Tamatha Villar with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, said the preliminary autopsy report shows hiker Kelly Tate had a diseased blood vessel in his heart.
According to Villar, apparently neither Tate nor his family knew about the heart problem.
The medical examiner on the case reported that the diseased blood vessel caused Tate to suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, and estimates that the hiker had been dead for a minimum of four to five days when his body was found.
The body of Kelly Tate was found late Tuesday in an area where searchers had been looking for nearly a week, about 200 yards from Tate's motorcycle, which was in a parking lot near the Discovery Trail.
Rescue crews from Pinal, Pima, Maricopa and Gila Counties as well as the Arizona Department of Public Safety, US Air Force Civil Air Patrol and numerous volunteers had all been involved in the search for Tate.
The hunt for the missing hiker near Apache Junction was reclassified as a recovery search on Tuesday morning, according to officials with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office.
The recovery classification meant rescue crews were no longer expecting to find the missing hiker alive.
The search had been reduced to a single agency effort spearheaded by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office, scaling back from the multi-agency hunt on since last Thursday when Tate went missing.
The discovery followed days of blistering heat and little success in the search for the 53-year-old hiker who went missing in the Lost Dutchman State Park.
Officials with the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office said the search began after the Phoenix native went hiking around 7:30 a.m. Thursday and told his wife he would be back in the afternoon, but failed to return.
Search and Rescue teams from Pinal, Pima, and Maricopa counties, along with Arizona Department of Corrections and Sonoran Search and Rescue had been participating in the search.