SBCSAR volunteer, Don Gordon (third from left), and other state rescue volunteers carry injured hiker, Miyuku Harwood, to a helicopter landing zone.

Last Saturday, two Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SBCSAR) team members — Don Gordon and Craig Scott — helped rescue 62-year-old Miyuku Harwood, who suffered two broken legs after she had been missing for 9 days in the Sierra Nevada National Forest near Fresno.

Responding to Fresno County’s state-wide call for aid, Gordon and Scott joined a Type I Mountain Rescue team, instructed to search near Horsehead Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at over 10,000 foot elevations where Harwood was last seen. Smoke from the nearby Rough Fire further complicated search efforts, already made difficult by the alpine terrain.

Craig Scott, SBCSAR volunteer, searches down a granite cliffside for the missing hiker.

Saturday morning, Marin County Search and Rescue Team members located Harwood in a ravine of the Falls Creek watershed. Soon after, Gordon and Scott responded to the scene, providing medical assistance and carrying Harwood one quarter of a mile in a stretcher from the ravine to a rescue helicopter.

Harwood, who was a triathlete in excellent physical condition, survived 9 days without food by crawling each morning from the shelter of a pine tree to a nearby creek, where she used her water filter pump. When rescuers approached, she used an emergency whistle to alert them.

Both Gordon and Scott, who have volunteered with the SBCSAR team for four and six years, respectively, expressed that they will never forget this mission. As Scott said, “To help in her rescue after all these days was an amazing experience that just reinforces why we do this work.”


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