Lost hikers rescued by helicopter from Malibu Creek State Park


Seven hikers who got lost while trudging through a rugged gorge in Malibu Creek State Park on Monday evening were airlifted to safety just after sunset, authorities said.

The group had hiked a trail, but became disoriented on the way back — they knew they were losing daylight and began to worry, said Ed Pickett, a supervising fire dispatcher with Los Angeles County Fire.

At 4:12 p.m, they dialed 911 and before long a fire helicopter swooped above the craggy, chaparral-covered slopes, searching for the group.

“It took us a little while to find them — about half an hour,” Pickett said, noting that rescuers were assisted by technology that pinpoints a caller’s latitude and longitude.

The group was eventually located just east of an area once used as a film set for the “M*A*S*H” series, Pickett said.

The hikers were airlifted out in two groups — the first at 5:27 p.m. and the second at 5:58 p.m. — and taken to a command post nearby. None of the hikers were injured, Pickett said, and nobody was transported to the hospital.

It’s not uncommon for hikers to get lost in the state park, which spans 8,000 acres, including several miles of streamside trails twisting through sycamore woodlands.

“It’s a pretty massive park,” Pickett said. “If you get off the beaten path, we have lost hikers there all the time.”

Last month, as raging rain pounded the region, more than 50 campers were rescued from flash flood conditions at nearby Leo Carrillo State Park, where several vehicles got trapped in thick mud. The campground remains closed because of damage from the rain.

Also last month, a pair of hikers was rescued near Mt. Baldy in San Bernardino County after losing their cellphones during a precipitous descent, according to authorities.

One of the hikers, Matthew Jaurequi, lost his footing on an icy trail and slid. His friend grabbed for him, but both hikers slid about 150 feet. Jaurequi slammed into a tree and was badly injured but managed to locate a cellphone while jabbing at the snow with a stick.

The phone, which had been lost by another hiker days earlier, had only 1% battery. But he got through to 911.

“Hitting that spot is like one in a billion,” his friend said.

Times staff writer Lila Seidman contributed to this report.





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