Despite poor weather and thick fog, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SBCSAR) Team’s hunt for a missing hiker ended Sunday in success. The male hiker in his sixties and his girlfriend in her thirties, both of Santa Barbara, were camping in their car around Aqua Caliente Canyon and Gibraltar Road the night before.
When the male hiker didn’t return after a few hours from a flower-picking excursion, his female companion went to search for him. Around 3 p.m. Saturday, she found him yelling and unable to move at the bottom of a mountainside. With her phone dead, she had to turn back and find help on the trail. It didn’t take long to find another hiker, who called the Dispatch Center for help.
The girlfriend attempted to lead rescuers back to her boyfriend, but she couldn’t find her bearings in the fog. Santa Barbara County Air Support Copter 3 also had trouble, having to turn back due to low visibility early into the search.
Climbing 40 feet down the mountainside, SBCSAR eventually found their way to the lost hiker. He was caught up in the brush with an injury to his ribs, as well as mild hypothermia. Rescuers — including County Fire, AMR, and U.S. Forest Service personnel — pulled the hiker, who was unable to walk, to the road with a rope, put him on a stretcher, and sent him to a local hospital.
It was another busy weekend for SBCSAR, which has received over 40 calls in the last two months. With all the recent calls, the team is looking for new members. Anyone interested can go to sbcsar.org for more information.