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Tue: Hope in search for missing hiker

January 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
For a fifth day, rescue crews are searching for a missing hiker in the San Bernardino Mountains near Green Valley Lake. Despite improving weather conditions, crews have yet to find 62-year-old Dean Christy.Christy's family is trying to remain positive and continue to pray for him. There are feelings of not only hope, but fear.

On Tuesday, rescue teams are expanding their search to cover more ground. The snowcats are crawling their way through snowy, rugged terrain as mountain rescue teams from San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties trek more than three miles in snow shoes to find Christy.

Christy has been missing since late Friday afternoon. He went for a walk near Green Valley Lake when thick fog rolled into the area and he lost his way. Using his cell phone, Christy called 911 to report that he had become disoriented in the fog and needed help.

"It was raining when he went out for his walk and we've received anywhere from three to five feet of snow over the last several days," said Cpl. Bryan Lane, San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "It does change the ground cover and what we may see at surface level. But he was describing ridges and depressions and out-croppings of trees and rocks."

In his call, Christy described his surroundings, but he lost cell phone communication on Saturday. He was dressed for cold weather. The retired teacher told authorities he was wearing a down jacket, hiking boots, hat, scarf, and gloves, but he did not have any food or water on hand.

His family says Christy has the skills to endure the elements.

"I'm thankful today that there is still sun because that will make the difference," said Joan Christy, Dean's wife. "And hopefully they can spot him. You know, we know he's out there."

More than 60 rescue personnel are looking for tracks in the snow and a helicopter is scanning with a bird's-eye view. They are still considering the search a rescue operation.

"They seem as optimistic as ever and I just want to thank them, and I just want them to find him," said Kevin Christy, Dean's son.

But rescuers are concerned about whether or not Christy could survive in the cold without food or water for this long.

His wife Joan says her husband of 20 years is a very special man who loved the outdoors and she's praying for his safe return.

"Hopefully he will always be here, in one way or another he will be here," said Joan Christy.

Joan says that her family has received the support of so many people and that is really helping give them strength during this very stressful time.

The Sheriff's Department has no plans at this point in time to call off the search for Dean Christy.


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