The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office reported a search and rescue mission on the evening of New Year’s Eve –
“On December 31, 2019, at approximately 5:00 PM, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office received notification that a person had activated a personal emergency locator beacon from a location between Avery and Sheep Ranch (Calaveras County).
Further reports revealed that a 66-year-old male had departed on a portion of the Arnold RIM trail from a location in Avery while operating an electric mountain bike. The male initially used a cell phone to inform a family member that he was lost, and then after traveling further, lost cell service and activated his emergency beacon.
Deputies responded to the area and began attempting to locate the male while the Calaveras Search and Rescue Team was dispatched. Due to the thick brush and limited access, a California Highway Patrol Helicopter was requested to assist in the search.
At about 8:00 PM, the operators of the Highway Patrol Helicopter reported that they had located a person believed to be the lost bicyclist in a heavily wooded area. The helicopter was unable to land in the area, and the canopy of dense trees prevented an airborne rescue. The helicopter communicated to the male that help was on the way and instructed him to remain where he was.
After traveling through more than a mile of thick brush in an off-trail area, Searchers arrived in the area where the subject had been seen by the helicopter and were unable to locate him. After searching the area, the male was located farther down the mountain. It was determined that he had continued to travel deeper into the forest after he was located by helicopter.
The male was led out of the area by the search team and was returned to his vehicle at about 1:15 AM on January 1, 2020. The male was in good health and not in need of medical treatment.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public that motorized vehicles can travel farther on a trail in an hour than a person could walk in a day. In this case, the missing male was equipped with an emergency locator beacon but lacked other survival supplies. He continued to travel after realizing that he was lost and even after being instructed to remain in place by the helicopter.
Basic safety rules for travel into the forest, whether on foot or by vehicle include:
• Take a partner whenever possible.
• Leave an itinerary with a friend, which includes your route
and return time.
• Check the weather and conditions (including overnight
temperature) and be prepared for them.
• Stay on the trail.
• Pack the ten essentials (First Aid, Map/Compass/GPS,
and Sun & Rain Protection, Flashlight, Fire Starters,
Repair Kit/Tools for any vehicle or equipment, Food,
Water & Shelter.
• As soon as you realize you may be lost: stop, stay calm,
stay put. Panic is your greatest enemy.
• If you become lost and are given instruction by any
emergency personnel or emergency dispatch, follow all
instructions and wait for any additional instructions.”