Missing Mountain Biker
September, 23,24 2009
By Les Walker
Curt Johnson 54 a Pinyon Pines resident with potential health
issues was reported lost on his mountain bike somewhere between Pinyon
and Palm Desert along Dunn Road. Approximately 7 pm Wednesday RMRU received
the call out for the missing man on his mountain bike.
Lew Kingman, Nick Nixon, Chuck Springer, Randy Yates, Brain Wood and Les
Walker responded on scene with Gwenda Yates handling phone communications
from the Hemet base.
The Team assembled at the north gate of Palm Canyon Road South and Dunn
Road in Pinyon Pines where Riverside Sheriff unlocked the gate and we
began the search for Mr Johnson.
We encountered a visible mountain bike track down Dunn Road and continued
to follow it in our vehicles until it wondered off track and into a sand
wash. From there Team One of Walker and Springer followed on foot with
their rescue packs. Nick Nixon came up with the idea of comparing the
bike track Team One was tracking with the bike track outside of Mr. Johnson’s
home. Yates and Wood “Team Two” returned to My Johnson’s
house to photograph the bike track pattern outside his home and returned
to meet up with Team One to confirm track. After having a positive match
we knew we where on the right path and continued down Palm Creek wash
following Mr. Johnson’s track. After 5 miles we found Mr. Johnson’s
bike abandoned where he continued down the wash on foot. The Team notified
the mobile base of Nixon and Kingman of the bikes position and then continued
down the path following Mr. Johnson’s footprints. We followed the
prints over many rocks, down small cliffs and down a few waterfalls over
the next 10 miles throughout the night. We took a small break on a high
ridge above the canyon at dawn to get a better visual and radio contact
with then now DSAR coming up from below. After confirming our location
with Kingman, Nixon and DSAR we dropped down into the canyon again to
follow Mr. Johnson’s track. Approximately one mile from the end
of the canyon, we received a radio communication from DSAR that Mr. Johnson
had walked out and was ok, exhausted but ok.
Now at 7:30 am the Riverside Sheriff’s helicopter offered the Team
a much-needed ride back up the canyon to our vehicles.