BAXTER STATE PARK – An Ohio hiker missing for three days was spotted Monday afternoon waving at searchers in a helicopter and was rescued.

After the helicopter landed a short distance away, rescuers helped Michael Hays of Stow, Ohio, hobble to the aircraft. Hays, who had a crushed kneecap and was covered in insect bites, was flown to a Millinocket hospital for treatment, a park official said.

“If they (rescuers) can still limp him along to the helicopter, then I know he’s not hurt too badly,” Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell said Monday afternoon.

Hays, speaking later from his hospital bed, said he had made several stupid mistakes and credited Baxter rangers with getting him out alive.

Hays’ brother, Paul Hays, said he was called at about 3:30 p.m. at his home in Eastlake, Ohio, by officials in Maine who said his 41-year-old brother had been found.

The search began Saturday after Michael Hays failed to sign out on a trail register. He was seen by other hikers Friday afternoon on the Knife Edge Trail, a narrow rocky ridge between 4,919-foot Pamola Peak and 5,267-foot Baxter Peak. His rental car was found in a parking lot.

Hays was found about half a mile from the Helon Taylor Trail and about two miles from the nearest road. He is an experienced hiker who was well-equipped for a day hike.

It’s unclear why Hays left the trail. Bissell said officials would ask him that question later.

Bissell said Monday it was the largest search for a missing person in the park since the early 1970s.

Paul Hays said his brother makes several hiking trips a year, including some in the Appalachian Mountains. Some of the trips are with groups while others are solo adventures.

“Usually we find out about these things after the fact,” Paul Hays said.

On Sunday, a search-and-rescue dog handler assisting with the effort suffered a serious knee injury. The searcher, Irene Morey, was airlifted to a hospital by a Maine National Guard helicopter.