Family and friends of a local man who set off on a cross-country hike in April got a scare this week when they didn't hear from him for several days.
As a result, police notified media and began looking for hiker Salvatore Pascarelli, who is trying to raise money for cancer research. He had last been seen in Arizona.
But on Saturday evening, the Spring Hill man's girlfriend got good news.
Pascarelli, 49, is alive and well, and in Las Vegas.
"We're all trying to figure it out," said girlfriend Denise Oakes of Ocala.
She hasn't had a chance yet to talk to Pascarelli, but police have spoken with the wayward hiker.
Apparently, Pascarelli's cell phone stopped working.
Police say Pascarelli told his girlfriend on June 27 that he was going to leave Flagstaff the next day and head to Yuma, an Arizona city on the way to San Diego.
Pascarelli, an experienced hiker, carries a Global Positioning System locator that stopped working around 9:30 p.m. June 27, police said. No one heard from him after that.
"I woke up this morning thinking the worst," Oakes said Saturday.
Pascarelli, a construction worker who hasn't had steady work in three years, told the St. Petersburg Times in April that the trip to San Diego was a way for him to find himself and his purpose in life.
He said he chose to raise money for cancer research and the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa because several people in his family have been affected by the disease.
He decided "to do something good, to give something back."
"Every journey in life always begins with a single step," he wrote on hikingforacause.com, a website he created for the project.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Kameel Stanley can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8643.