On April 21, 2022, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team came to the aid of a hiker in distress off the east fork trail in the area of Santa Paula Canyon.
At approximately 8:00 PM, Ventura County Fire Dispatch received a call of a 64-year-old male hiker in distress approximately 3 miles east of the Santa Paula Punch Bowls located in the Los Padres National Forest. The male hiker had become fatigued and faced a 5-hour hike back to his vehicle. At sunset, the temperature dropped below 50 degrees and a weather front had moved in, bringing rain to the area. The male subject took shelter and was able to relay his location to the rescuers using his cell phone.
The Ventura County Aviation Unit dispatched a helicopter to the hiker’s location, but due to the inclement weather, was unable to find the subject. Due to the rain and low temperatures, there was a concern for the hiker’s health and well-being.
At approximately 9:15 PM, the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue (SAR) Team was activated, and 5 team members immediately responded to the Santa Paula Canyon Trailhead.
SAR team members hiked approximately 6 miles into the canyon, facing rain, cold temperatures and darkness.
At approximately 2:00 AM, SAR team members contacted the hiker and were able to provide him supplies to stay warm. SAR Team members camped with the hiker until sunrise and the weather front had moved out of the area.
At approximately 6:00 AM, after the weather cleared the Ventura County Aviation Unit responded back to the location. The male hiker and SAR team were transported by helicopter to the trailhead. The male hiker was not injured and was reunited with a family member.
Volunteer members of the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team responded to the search within one hour of being contacted. They are a valuable asset to the Sheriff’s Office and play an intricate role in all search operations in Ventura County. These volunteers are skilled in search and rescue operations in mountain, canyon and urban settings. The volunteers log close to 4000 hours a year on searches, rescues, recoveries, training and public events.
For more information on the Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team, visit their website at www.ojaisar.org. The team can also be followed on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @ojaisar.