Collier deputies release video of hiker prior to death

A new inside look at a hiker alive and well before he was found dead one-month-ago near Nobles Campground in the Big Cypress Preserve.

Collier County deputies just released video in the hopes of identifying the deceased hiker. He used the alias “Ben Bilemy and was hiking from New York to Florida.

“This time of year there’s not a lot of people out there it’s summertime so it’s really hot, it’s really buggy and if it’s raining, it’s really wet because it’s a lot of swamp area so people tend to stay away from it,” said hiker Ashley Howe.

Howe described the Big Cypress National Preserves’ beauty.

“I spent a lot of time out there it’s a beautiful area but it is very cast, it’s wide open and everything looks the same there aren’t any giant landmarks anywhere,” Howe said.

Howe said it’s easy to get lost.

It’s unclear how the man died, but deputies say he was found dead with hiking boots, hiking poles and a two-person yellow tent.

“It’s unnerving when you think I can’t get in touch with anyone no one can get in touch with me and if I get turned around I’m lost–there’s no good words for that,” Howe said.

The sheriff’s office previously put out a bulletin in the hopes of identifying the man, but with no luck, they’re releasing this video.

The sheriff’s office said there’s no evidence his death is suspicious, but they’re urging you to call if you know his real name.

Reporter:Hannah Vogel
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