Body of Missing Ventura Hiker Recovered at Gaviota

Tim Sgrignoli, 29, Was Found Dead Not Far from Highway 101

Search and rescue teams from across California joined in the search for Sgrignoli, whose body was found on Thursday morning. | Credit: Santa Barbara County Fire
Tim Sgrignoli | Credit: Courtesy

The massive search to find missing hiker Tim Sgrignoli ended on Thursday morning when his body was found close to Highway 101 near the Gaviota Pass in Santa Barbara County. The 29-year-old Ventura man went missing on Sunday afternoon. Ever since, teams of rescue searchers from 10 counties up and down California trekked through the steep terrain covered in heavy brush and poison oak in the attempt to find him, said Commander Erik Raney with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

Sgrignoli had been hiking the Trespass Trail with his girlfriend, when she began to feel the effects of heat exhaustion. Leaving her with his cellphone, Sgrignoli set off down the trail to look for help. His girlfriend was eventually able to move to a location with cell reception and was rescued by helicopter. Sgrignoli was off-trail when he was found, just north of the Gaviota Tunnel and only about 20 feet from the highway. An examination would be done by the coroner, said Raney, but it was likely the extreme heat had contributed to his death.

Teams had come from San Mateo, the Bay Area, San Diego, Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, Marin, San Luis Obispo, the state Office of Emergency Services, and the California Rescue Dog Association to search for Sgrignoli, as well as logistical help coming from California Highway Patrol, Raney said, wanting to thank all the agencies that had persisted in the search. About 35 people spent each day and night looking for Sgrignoli, despite temperatures of 110 degrees in the shade. It was San Mateo Search and Rescue that located Sgrignoli this morning.

The heat made it difficult for the rescuers, Raney said, and the search dogs had to work for shorter times than usual because of the high temperatures. “Tim’s family and his girlfriend’s family were incredible,” he added, “supporting us and bringing us supplies. This was a really sad outcome for all of us.”

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