9 dayhikers lost overnight

April 09, 2001

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By Gene Baune

Beep beep beep!!! Finally after several quiet months, a mission! Although we hate to see people get into trouble team members spend a lot of time, effort, and money training and preparing for such events and when they happen, we're ready to respond. We revceived the page just after midnight on Monday morning. After contacting Debiy Reigle and finding out that several children were missing, RMRU team members jumped into high gear.

Two groups of 9 church hikers had gone on a hike near Tenaja Falls on Sunday afternoon and only one group had come out at the pick-up point. One group of 9 which included 4 adults and 5 children ages 2-7 had lost the trail and ended up spending the night huddled in the cold with the adults trying to keep the children warm.

Just after 6 am on Monday morning the San Diego County Sheriff's Department helicopter located the missing hikers. Dean Cicchelli, 42, of Wildomar had used a camera flash to signal rescuers. The hikers were found about seven miles from where they started their hike.

The search involved some 20 searchers from Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit, Hemet Search and Rescue, Riverside County Sheriff's Department, San Diego County Sheriff's Department and U.S. Forest Service, aided by bloodhounds and helicopters.