Missing Hikers Found Alive

UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Wednesday, January 3, 2013 at 10:55 a.m.)—At 8 p.m. on January 1, Frazier Park substation deputies received a report about two hikers missing in the Pine Mountain area. The two hikers, 16-year-old Ariel Fitzmorris and her 21-year-old sister Allison Fitzmorris, both of West Hills in San Fernando Valley, were visiting family in Pine Mountain. According to Kern County Sheriff’s Office, the two left at 1:30 p.m. for a hike, telling family members they would return just after dark. Family members contacted the sheriff’s office around 8 p.m. after the two had not returned. Volunteers from the Bakersfield and Southern Kern Search and Rescue teams responded and conducted a search along with the sheriff’s Air One helicopter. The ground search continued throughout the night. Air One returned at 8 a.m. and continued the search. Kern Valley Search and Rescue joined in the effort. At about 9:30 a.m. Air One located the two hikers in a rugged canyon approximately 1.5 miles southwest of the home in Pine Mountain where they were staying. Kern County Fire Department Airship 407 responded and hoisted each of the hikers into the helicopter.

Southern Kern Search and Rescue’s Mike Parker told The Mountain Enterprise that the girls were very lucky to be alive. "Temperatures were in the teens," Parker said. "If they had not been together, they probably would not have survived. We felt that they would survive the night because we believed they would probably use each other’s body heat to stay warm enough. We knew they would be extremely uncomfortable, but felt confident that we would find them alive."

Parker said that after the girls’ grandparents told search personnel the hikers had taken oranges with them, orange peels found on the ground along with tracks confirmed the direction the two were going. Search and rescue teams were able to provide Air One’s pilot with the hikers’ direction of travel. The pilot spotted a few tracks in the snow. It appeared that the hikers had gone up to 7,000 feet on Cerro Noroeste (Mt. Abel) and then turned around to come back down. They were spotted on a rocky ledge, waving at the helicopter.

Parker said Kern County Fire Department’s helicopter was called for the hoist rescue because the sheriff’s rescue helicopter was on another call.

The hikers were both taken to Henry Mayo Hospital in Valencia where they remained on Thursday morning, January 3.

UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 4:30 p.m.)—The two hikers were reportedly found and brought to PMCPOA clubhouse at 10:23 a.m. Further details will be posted here by Thursday.

UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8 a.m.)—Weather conditions last night are reported with temperatures in the 20s, with the current temperature being about 36 degrees. This could be dangerous for the young women reported missing if they were lost outside Tuesday night.

UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 7:01 a.m.)—The Mountain Enterprise has learned that the missing hikers are two sisters from the Los Angeles area, 16 and 21 years of age. They were on a short hike west of the Pine Mountain Community, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Watch Commander. A source related to a search team member said the women may have been walking in the area known as "Smokey Bear," within sight of Pine Mountain homes, west of Ironwood Drive. This is unconfirmed. Search and Rescue teams are still looking for the hikers.

FRAZIER PARK, CALIFORNIA (Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 4:01 a.m.)—Kern County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue teams were looking in the Mountain Communities area for 2 overdue hikers, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office at 10:28 p.m. last evening. Check back at this page for updates as they are available.

This is part of the December 28, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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