Despite slight dehydration and minor bruises and cuts, a 78-year-old cattle rancher was found in relatively good health after he went missing for reasons unknown on Thursday, May 5, in Santa Ynez Valley near Refugio Road.
The man had left on horseback that morning, but never showed up for his 9 a.m. meeting with friends to gather cattle in the hills above Refugio Road. Upon finding his truck and trailer unattended, friends and fellow ranchers began searching the surrounding area on horseback and ATVs, but were unable to locate him or his horse.
As the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue team prepared to enter the field and begin searching, an SAR team member noticed some orange-colored movement around a quarter mile away from the last place near Refugio Road the man was known to be. Using binoculars, an SAR team identified the missing man and cut a trail up the hill to him. SAR Wilderness EMTs found the missing rancher to be in relatively good shape. He was returned to his spouse and family by 7 p.m.