— Just when everyone was blaming overeager cell phone callers for the increase in search and rescue call outs, a beer-happy hiker out for a fun time provided another reason why the Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue Team has been out in the backcountry more often recently.

SAR and a Sheriff’s Aviation helicopter were called Wednesday night to rescue 31-year-old San Diego man who got lost near Gibraltar Dam. The man, along with some family and friends, apparently had been enjoying the backcountry east of the Red Rock day-use at one of the many pools along the Santa Ynez River. At some point they all decided to hike further up the river to Gibraltar Dam.

At about 3:30pm the man, who apparently had consumed a large amount of beer, became separated from his brother and other members of his party. Apparently too inebriated to continue upstream, the man decided to sit down and wait for help. Sleep soon ensued, enough so that he failed to hear calls from his family.

After nearly an hour of searching with no success, the man’s brother hiked out to Red Rock, drove to the Paradise Ranger Station and called called 9-1-1 shortly before 8pm. Santa Barbara County Search and Rescue and Sheriff’s Aviation Copter 2 responded. A search was initiated from the ground and within a short period of time an SAR ground team made voice contact with the subject and was able to break through heavy brush from a road directly above the river to reach him.

After Search and Rescue EMTs completed a medical evaluation, the man was able to hike out with the assistance of SAR personnel to an SAR vehicle. He was then transported back to the SAR Command Post at the Paradise Ranger Station to be reunited with his family and friends.

No word on whether a post-party was held to celebrate his safe return.


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