Missing 83-Year-Old Woman

June 19, 1976
Stoney Creek CG, Sequoia NF

Ed Hill

On Saturday, June 19, 1976, the California Region of the Mountain Rescue Association was asked to help search for an 83 year old lady lost since Thursday, June 17th. She had wandered away from a family picnic.

Teams from China Lake, Sierra Madre, Bay Area, San Diego, Montrose and Riverside responded. RMRU's contribution was Jim Garvey, Larry Roland and myself. We joined the Tulare County Search and Rescue Team and the U. S. Forest Service:

At six thirty, a team from China Lake were shown her last known tracks, and they started tracking.

Groups from the other units were assigned areas to cover. By nine thirty, the team from China Lake had tracked her down. She had been wandering up and down a ridge about two miles away from the campground. The team reported that she was in fair shape but would need to be carried out.

The Forest Service volunteered a helicopter, and the rest of us would drive as close as we could and hike in with a litter and more first aid gear. She was about twenty minutes walk down the ridge from a logging road. We placed her in a litter and carried her up to where the helicopter had set down. The plan was to fly her out in the passengers seat in the bird. However, when we sat her up, she complained of back pains. So we decided to leave her lying down, carry her up the hill and take her out in a Volkswagon bus. By noon, the operation was secured, and the teams had started on the long drive back.

The mission really convinced me on the value of really being able to track. The China Lake people had sorted out her tracks even though other searchers had partially covered them.