Press Release

 

Ventura - Two Search and Rescue Volunteers to be Honored for 76 Years of Service
1/14/2014 7:30:00 AM

 

Nature of Incident:

Search and Rescue Volunteers to be Honored by Board of Supervisors

Location:

Hall of Administration 800 S. Victoria Ave. Ventura, Ca.

Date & Time:

Jan. 14, 2014 @ 10:00 a.m.

Unit(s) Responsible:

Ventura County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team

Ventura County Board of Supervisors

Narrative:

Two Ventura County Sheriff's Search and Rescue volunteers are retiring after a combined 76 years of service to the community.

Larry Beckett and Mike Jauregui will be recognized by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors during a ceremony Tuesday honoring their decades of selfless commitment to the people of Ventura County.

Volunteering for the Ventura County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team takes serious dedication. It requires physical fitness and specialized technical training in mountaineering, first aid, survival, swift water rescue, and SCUBA diving.

Good judgment and strong character are among the traits our volunteers consistently bring to the team. 'That others may live' is a pragmatic, yet powerful team motto that explains why they will drop everything at a moment's notice to go into the mountains to save the lives of strangers.

Mike and Larry have literally seen it all during their 76 years on the team. Larry began his long tenure on the SAR team at a time when the Sheriff's Office hadn't yet gotten its first helicopter.

When he started in 1973, the method of notifying other members of his location and status was to fire his revolver into the air. One shot meant he found something. Two shots were used to signal his location. Three shots meant he needed help.

Eventually, we trained him to use VHF radios and satellite phones like the rest of us.

One of Larry's memorable rescues was an example of using good judgment. He and the team were assembled in Lockwood Valley to rescue an entire Boy Scout troop stranded in bad weather on Pine Mountain. When the troop began ascending the mountain, the weather was just fine in the valley. However, they could see the dark clouds gathering around the summit. As they neared their goal, the troop got caught in a blizzard.

Larry and the team discussed the conditions and decided they would wait until morning before searching for the troop. They assessed the situation and determined the troop was well equipped with the right gear, tents, and food.

Two rangers were upset that the SAR Team wouldn't venture out that night. Larry knew the weather would put the team in a dangerous position and they would be unable to effectively search for the missing troop.

The two rangers ventured out on their own and quickly got caught in snow blowing horizontally with zero visibility. They were forced to huddle behind a large boulder and spend a very cold night exposed to the elements. The two men were unharmed, but were humbled by the elements.

By morning, the SAR Team ventured out and found the troop with the help of a helicopter. All were safely returned to Lockwood Valley.

Larry worked for three decades as a school psychologist, ran a dude ranch in Montana, and served as International Service Chair with Rotary International. He is also on the board of directors of the Nomad Foundation, which has sent Larry to Africa twice in recent years.

Larry and his wife, Judy, have lived in Ventura County for 44 years. Larry's passion is the outdoors, and he and Judy enjoy spending time with their two daughters and three grandchildren.

Mike Jauregui was working as an optometrist, seeing his last patient of the day, when the phone rang. The SAR Team was needed to rescue a man clinging to the Sespe Wall. Mike hung up the phone and looked his patient in the eye. She understood immediately what was happening and told him to go. She would gladly reschedule the appointment.

Mike quickly drove home and retrieved his climbing gear. When he arrived at the scene, he learned the grim news that one man had already fallen to his death. The survivor was barely holding on to a flake of rock and declared his intent to jump. Deputies continued to talk to the man while Mike began to scale the wall.

He knew from experience to set up multiple anchors and carefully approach the victim. Mike had learned the hard way from someone who was so desperate to be rescued that he jumped into Mike's arms while he clung precariously to a sheer cliff.

This time, Mike methodically made three anchor points in the rock wall before approaching the victim with a rescue harness. The man's hands were white from holding on so hard for such a long time. One hand tightly gripped a small root of a bush sticking out of the rock face.

The man followed Mike's instructions and was safely lowered to the ground just as dusk turned to night.

Nothing could be done for the man's friend, who had fallen 140 feet before rescuers had arrived. 

The men had no climbing experience between them and were not using any safety equipment. They magnified the dangers by drinking before trying to scale the steep wall.

I asked Mike and Larry what made them dedicate so many years to the SAR Team.

Mike said, 'We had so many successes. We saved many lives over the years. That's what motivated us.'

For Larry, the SAR Team was an extended family.

'I'm personally very grateful for the experience of having done that,' he said. 'As long as I was with it, I was not prepared for the feeling of separation I felt when I left the team.'

Larry and Mike responded to hundreds of emergency calls during their years on the team.

There are currently 178 members of the Sheriff's Search and Rescue Team. They volunteer their time to the team and can be called upon at any time to leave their families and their jobs to risk their lives to save others.

For information about the Search and Rescue program, Sgt. Carl Patterson is the coordinator and can be reached at (805)388-4257. Additional information can be found on our website at www.vcsd.org/cv-search-and-rescue.php.

 

Prepared by:

Sgt. Eric Buschow

 

Media Release Date:

Jan. 13, 2014

 

Follow-Up Contact:

Sgt. Eric Buschow (805)947-8129

eric.buschow@ventura.org

 

Approved by:

Captain Ross Bonfiglio

 

 

###