Footprints Lead to the Rescue of Missing Hikers Lost on California Mountain for 5 Days
This was one lucky rescue mission. A lot of the time, these types of rescue missions don’t return good news. But we are happy to report that this rescue mission was definitely good news, and two hikers are now back home with their families.
Two missing hikers were found alive on Wednesday, ending a five-day search after the pair got lost on California’s Mount Baldy and were forced to ration food and filter dirty water to survive.
Eric Desplinter, 33, and Gabrielle Wallace, 31, were reported missing Saturday night after they ventured into the San Gabriel Mountains in San Bernardino County that afternoon and failed to return that evening, ABC News reports. A desperate search ensued, and authorities said two sets of footprints in Cucamonga Canyon ultimately led them to the pair.
“We rationed our food, drank water through a LifeStraw, and kept as warm as possible,” Desplinter told reporters after the rescue, detailing how he and Wallace got lost, according to KABC. “We just lost the trail and had a little bit of a slip going to the peak of Cucamonga peak and decided we wouldn’t go back up the ice and snow, so we tried to descend through a valley. But that valley was more treacherous than we thought.”
#BREAKING: Both missing hikers, who got lost on Mt. Baldy for FIVE days, have been reunited with family. Eric Desplinter says they rationed food to survive. @ABC7 https://t.co/GNbSgeeZ1r pic.twitter.com/4jgEd6t4DV
— Veronica Miracle (@ABC7Veronica) April 11, 2019
Search teams combed 19,000 acres looking for Wallace and Desplinter, and rescue efforts began after authorities spotted the footprints and followed them, KABC reported. Soon, authorities flew over the area in a helicopter and an aviation crew spotted Wallace and Desplinter along with a campfire.
“We’re very grateful to be found tonight,” Desplinter said, according to KABC. “I’m ready to get to bed and get some rest.”
Once found, the hikers were flown to a nearby fire station and reunited with their families, according to KNBC.
Best possible outcome we’ve been hoping for! Thank you to all of the Search and Rescue volunteers, aviation units, and our assisting agency partners. Training, hard work, and perseverance paid of. https://t.co/9HeLXmYfAU
— Sgt. Jeff Allison (@SBCSDjallison) April 11, 2019
“We just can’t wait to see them and hug them and hold them,” Karen Ziebarth, Desplinter’s mother, told KNBC. “We brought blankets in the car and we just want to huddle them up because this is the first night that they won’t have to be cold.”
According to WHO-DT, Wallace and Desplinter were on the mountain with two coworkers training for a hike to take place at the end of April. During the training hike, the coworkers headed back down the mountain but Desplinter and Wallace decided to continue on.
Authorities praised the search-and-rescue teams that helped the pair return home safely.
“Volunteers are a real blessing to our agencies, providing thousands of hours giving back to make our communities better and stronger,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said in a statement shared by the department on Facebook. “This is a perfect example of their commitment.”