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O.C. man rescued from bottom of ravine

July 31, 2009 5:49:34 PM PDT
A hobby turns dangerous for an Orange County man, who was missing since Thursday. He ended up at the bottom of a steep ravine while flying radio-controlled airplanes and had to be air lifted out of Moulton Meadows Park in Laguna Beach.Authorities searched the rough terrain for hours for 61-year-old Moe Sakhaii from Laguna Beach.

Crews found his model plane Friday, nearly 30 hours after he was last seen, then a helicopter saw him waving. He was lying on the ground, but alert.

Rescuers call him a very lucky man. He was slightly dehydrated, had some bumps and bruises, but otherwise had no serious injuries.

"He said he was thirsty and he asked for water, and the search group from Orange County Fire Authority gave them all the water they had, and I was told he consumed every bit," said Battalion Chief Kris Head from the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

He was strong enough to stand and thanked a rescuer with a hug. He told officials that he was flying his airplane and then decided to go for a hike.

"He indicated that he had slipped and fallen for an unknown distance. He had been there throughout night," said Asst. Chief Mike Hillman from the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Rescuers used a helicopter to lift Sakhaii out of the rugged area, where the vegetation is as high as 12 feet.

Mountain lions and rattlesnakes are common in the area, and officials are amazed he survived.

"We had a fairly mild evening, and he was probably able to take advantage of the dense vegetation that hid him from us discovering him immediately. At the same time that probably provided enough shade for him where he was able last," Head said.

Paramedics took him to a local hospital to assess his condition.

"I was praying for him all day. I thought maybe it would be a different ending," said neighbor Patty Freeman.

"It's a very happy day, we are so excited."

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