Ventura County Sheriff – Incident Press Release
On November 13, 2019, multiple resources from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the National Parks Service, and California State Parks responded to the area of Satwiwa Cultural Center, in the Santa Monica Mountains, and located an overdue hiker.
At about 3:00 PM, the hiker was reported to the Sheriff’s Office by his wife. The hiker was expected to pick up his wife in town at around 12:00 PM from the Janss Market Place. The hiker frequents the Santa Monica Mountain National Park, in the area of the Satwiwa Cultural Center.
Patrol units responded to the parking lot at the Satwiwa Cultural Center and located the hiker’s vehicle. A quick search of the area was conducted, but the hiker was not found. The hiker was described as wearing shorts, a shirt, and hiking boots. The hiker had no cellular phone, no food, and very little water. The hiker also did not have warm clothing and cold weather was expected in the area.
The Ventura County Aviation Unit launched Copter 8 and the East Valley Search and Rescue Team to begin the search for the hiker. Copter 8 searched the area but was unable to locate the hiker. The East Valley Search and Rescue Team deployed on foot, and began to hike trails surrounding the area as darkness fell. Based on the time the hiker had been missing, the highest areas of probability were searched first. Rangers from the National Park Services and the California State Parks also began searching the areas, including the Pacific Coast Highway.
At about 5:00 PM, additional ground searchers from the Fillmore Search and Rescue Team responded to the area to assist. The Fillmore Search and Rescue Team deployed an additional seventeen ground searchers using dirt bikes and side by side off road vehicles. At the peak of this operation, over thirty-five searchers were being utilized to locate the hiker.
At about 7:45 PM, Copter 3 responded to the area to continue the search efforts. Copter 3 utilized the Forward-Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) system to check for heat sources in the area. Copter 3 also utilized night vision technology during their flight. Copter 3 was unable to locate the overdue hiker.
At about 10:30 PM, a search and rescue ground searcher heard an odd sound in the area of Tri- Peaks and Fossil Trail. The searcher described it as being out of the ordinary for the time of night. The ground searcher continued to hear the sound and was able to move closer to the source. When the ground searcher got close enough, he called out to the hiker who responded back. The ground searcher was still not able to locate the hiker, but learned that he was uninjured. All search efforts were then focused to this area.
At about 11:00 PM, ground searchers were able locate the hiker who was stuck, off trail, near multiple large boulders. The hiker was in good spirits and his physical health was good. As a result of poor weather moving into the area, additional search and rescue members responded to the area and prepared for a rope system rescue.
At about 11:20 hours, Copter 8 returned to the area and was able to perform a helicopter hoist operation of the hiker. Copter 8 was unable to land in the area because of poor weather. Copter 8 landed in the area of Lake Sherwood and off loaded the hiker to an awaiting Sheriff’s patrol unit who returned him to his vehicle.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone who hikes in the back country to file a hiking plan with a family member or friend. Hiking plans can be found at www.vcsar3.org. Additionally, hikers should also carry the “Ten Essentials” which include: compass, sunglasses, extra clothing, flashlight, first-aid kit, matches, multi-tool, extra food, water, and emergency shelter or blanket.
The members of the East Valley and Fillmore Search and Rescue Teams are comprised of volunteers who work at the direction of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. Their expertise of the back country and dedication to service are an invaluable asset to our community.