Apr. 4, 2013: Two Lost Hikers - Trabuco Canyon, Cleveland National Forest, Orange County

R. Wood being lowered into search area by LA County Air Rescue 5. Photo by Antonio M. Arizo

04/04/13, Monday 04:30 – 16:00 Hours

In afternoon of Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013, two teenagers, a male and female, went for a short hike in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County planning on heading to Holy Jim Falls. They lost the trail in the dark and called 911 around 2030 hours to report that they were lost. Shortly after they called, their cell phone battery died so searchers were not able to ping their phone.

Over the next three days, the Orange County Sheriff’s and Fire Departments searched for the subjects in the thick vegetation in the canyons. Search teams from Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Riverside counties also assisted in the search. Many of the subject’s friends and the general public came out to help search.

The Ventura County search teams were requested on Wednesday evening, April 3, to respond to the operation the next day to assist in the search effort. Twenty-three members of the Ventura East Valley Team, Fillmore Team, and coordinators responded. That evening, the male subject was located alive with moderate injuries and was flown to a local hospital.

The Ventura County search team members arrived at the command post at Trabuco Canyon fire station and were given various assignments. Two were assigned to a K9 search team, another provided his expertise in the command post operations and communications, while others were assigned field search assignments including being inserted into the rugged terrain by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Air Rescue 5.

Around 1100 hours, a field team consisting of Sierra Madre and Ventura East Valley team members were able to make voice contact with the female subject. The female subject was across the canyon from the field team, but they were able to direct other ground rescuers and a helicopter to the subject’s location on a rock out cropping. LA County Sheriff’s Air Rescue 5 hoisted the female subject into the copter and flew her to a hospital.

During the rescue of the female subject, a reserve Orange County deputy was attempting to access the subject’s location when he slipped and fell 60 feet down into a ravine sustaining a serious head injury. The deputy fell right in the middle of two of the East Valley searchers. The East Valley team members provided initial treatment and notified the command post of the injury. An Orange County Fire Authority copter lowered a paramedic to the injured deputy. The East Valley members assisted in packaging the deputy for a hoist operation. The copter hoisted the deputy and flew him to a hospital in serious condition.

The Ventura County search team members returned back to the command post, were debriefed, ate a quick lunch, and returned back to Ventura County to assist in a second search in progress for two missing teens in Wildwood Park.

See the Ventura County Sheriff's Media Release.

View photos from the search.