News Story


Santa Paula Canyon , Lost/Stranded Hikers
9/18/2011 9:42:00 PM


Nature of Incident:                       

Lost/Stranded Hikers



Santa Paula Canyon                             


Date & Time RB#:                                                                 

09-17-11 @ 8:00 PM


Unit Responsible:

Ventura County Sheriff Search and Resue Unit


(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses                  City of Residence                              

7 Unnamed hikers                                          All Residents of Ventura County       



On 9-17-11, at approximately 8:00 PM, two juveniles called 911 to report that they were lost in Santa Paula Canyon.  The Ventura County Fire Department dispatchers called the Sheriff's Office to report the circumstanses to them.  The Upper Ojai Search and Rescue Team was activated and responded to the location. 


At the time of the call, the boys had cell phone reception and were on the main trail at the bottom of the canyon.  They also informed deputies that their hiking companions had gone on ahead of them out of the canyon.  Darkness had fallen before they could get out.  They were uninjured, but cold and lost.


Upper Ojai SAR members arrived at the trailhead and spoke to two hikers waiting there.  As it turns out, they were not the friends that had hiked ahead of the lost juveniles.  They too were waiting for a friend that had not returned before darkness fell.  The SAR members hiked up the trail calling out to anyone that could hear them.  After about ten minutes, they located the two friends that had hiked on ahead of the missing juveniles.  They were on the main trail, but could not hike out due to the darkness.  They were escorted out to the command post.


As the SAR members continued on they found two more hikers who were lost and stranded due to the darkness.  They were also escorted out.  After about 45 minutes of hiking, SAR members were able to make voice contact with the original juveniles who were missing.  The SAR members discovered that the juveniles had climbed up onto a cliff area when they became scared of possible wild animals.  The SAR members climbed up onto the cliff edge approximately 200 feet above the creek bottom to assist the juveniles.  Once there they realized they could not get the juveniles down because of the steep terrain, loose rock and darkness.  The SAR members called for the Sheriff's Office rescue helicopter.


Copter 9 responded to the location.  Using night vision goggles, they were able to hoist down a rescuer to the juveniles.  The juveniles were fitted into a rescue device and hoisted off the cliff face.  The copter flew them to the command post and dropped them off.  It returned and hoisted the remaining SAR members from the cliff.


Copter 9 then conducted a search of the canyon for the last missing hiker.  While using the night vision goggles, one crew member saw a faint flicker of light farther up the main canyon.  Again, a rescuer was hoisted down.  The rescue confirmed that the flicker of light was from the last missing hiker.  He had used the ambiant light from his cell phone as a signal device.  This hiker had fallen in the darkness and had sustained moderate injuries.  He was fitted in a harness and hoisted from the location.  He was then flown to a waiting ambulance.


What started out as two lost hikers turned out to be much more than that.  In all, four hikers lost hikers were found and escorted out of the canyon.  Three more were rescued by Copter 9 bringing the total number of hikers rescued to seven. 


The Upper Ojai SAR team is a volenteer rescue team made up of members of the community.  They provide a valuable public service at no cost to taxpayers."


Officer Preparing Release:   

Senior Deputy Shane Matthews


Follow-up Contact: 

Sergeant Frank Underlin / 805-388-4212                                                                  


Date of Release:  



Approved By:  R.Hindman