The forest is the forest. It can be beautiful, dangerous, awe-inspiring, and treacherous all at the same time. The wonders of Mother Nature must be respected, it isn’t Disneyland. It isn’t a perfectly maintained, temperature-controlled, fresh arctic water served on every corner zone for people to frolic in without a care in the world.
Wednesday, June 29th a call came into the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Emergency Dispatch Center, a man was reported missing along the Hites Cove / Savage Lundy Trail. On some of the hottest days we have seen this year, the missing man was described as being in his mid-60s, approx. 5’6” and 200lbs wearing sweatpants. The reporting party first contacted the man on Tuesday, June 28th at 7 am. He was not a local man and spoke to the reporting party about the previous deaths and the determination of those deaths which he found “odd” and wanted to do some personal research on his own.
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The next morning the reporting party noticed his rented vehicle was still parked at the trailhead and contacted our office. A Search and Rescue mission was activated and with the help of the Eagle One Helicopter from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, the man was located on the Hites Cove Rd portion of the trail.
The missing man, from Michigan, began his hike in an area marked with a closed gate and a “CLOSED” sign. While he was happy to be rescued, however, he immediately started to complain that he was forced to spend the night at the bottom of the Hites Cove trail because he was unable to find the trail that leads to the Savage Lundy portion. He tried multiple times to call 911, but the calls would not go through. He did have two one-gallon water containers with him and was concerned that he was forced to drink water he obtained from the river area and wanted to know if there had been updated algae testing.
Medical personnel responded and provided him with medical attention for his badly blistered feet and dehydration before he left the area in his rental car against medical advice.
“It is hard not to be angry about this particular rescue mission, I want people to come here and enjoy all the amazing nature Mariposa County has to offer. I want families to recreate and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Making sure the public is safe while doing that is extremely important to me. Providing the public with as many resources as possible to be educated and informed is a group effort by my office, the US Forest Service, the National Park Service and countless other agencies throughout Mariposa County. We, the general public and our office learn from each rescue we do, we learn how we as an organization can change to better serve our community and visitors. Which is why we updated our app to be a more robust resource for people to use. We had local, national and international news surrounding the tragic incident last year on the Savage Lundy trail. Each time we spoke about it we informed the public on ways to stay safe in the area. To have someone purposely put themselves in danger, using vital resources and potentially putting the safety of our staff in danger all to try and prove us wrong is maddening and quite frankly sickening. I am proud of my team for their professionalism and for bringing this man back to safe location. Please recreate responsibly.”
Enjoying our natural resources around Mariposa County is a huge part of what makes this area such an amazing place to visit and live. Please recreate responsibly. Inform people of your plans, check trail conditions, seek wilderness permits where required, be prepared for the conditions, bring more water and food than you think you might need, and be prepared to have little to no ways to communicate via cell phones.
The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office App has been updated to include information about our local Stanislaus and Sierra National Forests. The app can be downloaded by searching Mariposa Sheriff’s Office in the Apple app store or the Google play store.