Helicopters Rescue Hiker Stricken by Heat Sickness

CUDDY VALLEY (August 23, 2010, 7:30 a.m.)—At about 1 a.m. The Mountain Enterprise contacted Kern County Sheriff’s Watch Commander to confirm there were search helicopters operating in the Frazier Mountain region between Frazier Park and Pine Mountain (see report below). A press release at 4:43 a.m. from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office reports that at 10:14 p.m. on Sunday, August 22, the Kern County Sheriff’s Communication Center received a report of a hiker who had become dehydrated, was vomiting and was unable to walk any farther near the Pleito Campground west of Frazier Park. The sick hiker was later identified as Fernando Duran, a 28 year old male and Santa Paula resident visiting the Frazier Park area with friends.

Deputies from the Frazier Park Substation responded and located one of Duran’s friends, 22 year old Omar Arista, who had hiked out to call for help. Arista told deputies he left Duran with another friend, 24 year old Jose Luna, and estimated it had taken him approximately one and a half hours to hike out. Arista reported they had traveled to this area in an attempt to locate old rock paintings and pictographs in these mountains. He said Duran had become sick after they had run out of water.

Deputies dispatched the Sheriff’s Helicopter, Air One, and Search Rescue to assist in the search for Duran and Luna.

At 11:37 p.m. Air One located Duran and Luna under a deep canopy of trees in rugged terrain approximately five miles north of the Pleito campground. Due to the rugged terrain and Duran’s reported medical condition it was determined that a hoist operation was needed and Sheriff’s Hoist Helicopter, Air Five, was dispatched.

Both Duran and Luna were safely hoisted and transported off the mountain by Air Five. Duran was found not to have any life threatening injuries but did complain of being tired and not prepared for a hike like this. He was given fluids but declined any further medical attention. Deputies assisted in retrieving the group’s vehicle and all three returned to the Santa Paula area.

CUDDY VALLEY (August 23, 2010, 12:53 a.m.)—Helicopters are using the light of the full moon to attempt to rescue hikers in the rugged Pleito Creek area, off of Trail 111 in the mountains north of Cuddy Valley Road, just east of the Mil Potrero "Y."

Kern County Watch Commander Lt. Steve Hansen reported to The Mountain Enterprise at 12:43 a.m. that a hiker had made his way out of the rugged area, leaving two colleagues behind, one of whom had fallen ill. Hansen said the hiker was able to make it back to a vehicle, found a cell phone signal and called for help. Ventura County Sheriff’s dispatch notified Kern County Sheriffs, who sent their Air One unit, "just a normal helicopter," which located the reporting individual, but "the tree cover was too thick for us to be able to land," Hansen said. "It is a full moon so they can fly tonight," he added, saying that "Air Five, our big unit that can do rescues," has been dispatched.

KCSO has also sent the Southern Kern Search & Rescue ground unit to the area.

Additional reports will be posted as they are available.

This is part of the August 20, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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