Ventura County Sheriff Department – Incident Press Release
On 04/16/19, at approximately 6:28 PM, Ventura County Sheriff’s Dispatch received a call from a woman stating her friend was lost in Santa Paula Canyon while returning from the Punch Bowls. The “Punch Bowls” is a popular hiking trail located parallel with the Santa Paula Creek approximately three miles from the trailhead location with 744 feet of elevation gain. The trail has been damaged from recent weather and is difficult to follow in many areas.
The reporting party told Sheriff’s Dispatch a 16 year old male hiker left the Punch Bowls ahead of his group. When the group returned to their vehicle, the 16 year old male was not there. The missing male was able to get cellphone reception and called his friends to tell them he was lost. His friends contacted Sheriff’s Dispatch and asked for help. There was little daylight left and the missing male had no flashlight and his cell phone battery was depleted.
The Upper Ojai Search and Rescue (SAR) Team and a Deputy from the Fillmore Police Department responded to the location. Members of the SAR Team were able to contact the missing male by cellular phone and gain information on his possible location. Based on the provided information, and the experience from many searches in the area, it was determined the missing male was lost in the east fork of the canyon.
At approximately 7:00 PM, multiple SAR teams were sent up the canyon to search for the subject.
At approximately 9:00 PM, the SAR Teams were able to locate the missing male, uninjured, and walked him out to the trail head where his parents were waiting for him.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team urges all hikers to properly prepare for their day on the trails. Please take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Make sure you take a map of the area, as well as a compass or GPS, and be certain you understand land navigation. Be ready for any possible weather changes that may occur, take plenty of food and water, and pack additional clothing and a flashlight. If you’re not familiar with the area, stay with more experienced hikers and do not go off on your own. Before leaving for your hike, let somebody know where you will be and what time you expect to be back.
The Upper Ojai Ventura County Search and Rescue Team is a nonprofit, volunteer organization consisting of approximately 28 volunteers skilled in search and rescue operations in mountain, canyon and urban settings. The team volunteers average about 3,000 hours per year on searches, rescues and training. The Upper Ojai Team provides assistance and support throughout Ventura County and the surrounding areas as requested and approved by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. The Upper Ojai Team is capable of responding outside of Ventura County and has assisted is search and rescue operations in the throughout the State of California.