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3 missing hikers found safe in Big Bear area

May 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Search crews in the Big Bear area have located three experienced hikers who were reported missing since Saturday.

The hikers were located in the area of Northfolk Meadows at approximately 10:15 a.m. Tuesday by the Sheriff's patrol helicopter.

Ryan Shankles, David Yoder, and Miguel De La Torre hadn't been seen since they ventured out on Fish Creek Trailhead near Barton Flats Saturday. The men from the Oceanside and Carlsbad area set out on a day hike with a fourth man identified as James Goins.

According to officials, Goins began feeling light-headed and turned back as the three other men continued towards the top of Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California. When the other men didn't return by nightfall, Goins began to worry and called authorities.

A camp host and approximately 60 search-and-rescue members began searching for the men Sunday morning.

After three days of searching, the subjects were located and appeared to be in good condition despite having slept in the mountains through inclement weather. The hikers said they heard the search helicopter Monday and made their way to a clearing Tuesday in an attempt to catch the pilot's attention.

"I just want to thank, first of all, Jesus. I also just want to thank everyone who was involved, search and rescue everyone," said Shankles.

The hikers said they had trouble coming back down the summit due to a lot of snow on the crevices of the trailhead.

"On the way back, it was really bad," said Shankles. "It was so bad that we were afraid of sliding down like 200 yards."

For the three of them to stay warm, it wasn't easy.

"I don't like to use the word 'spooning,'" said Shankles. "Especially with men. But if you didn't, we were not going to survive, that's for sure."

They tried to light a fire to alert a helicopter.

"We tried to light a fire but couldn't get it," said Yoder.

"We had a little Swiss Army knife magnifying glass," said Shankles. "We needed 15 minutes of daylight. We found like a balloon, we opened it, put a bunch of stuff in there and just sat there for 15 minutes and got it, and finally got fire."

Once located, the men were evaluated by medical personnel. The men had some cuts and scrapes but none will require hospitalization. De La Torre was allegedly on the verge of of hypothermia when found, but was otherwise OK.

"I was worried the first day or two," said De La Torre. "And then Thursday some peace came over me that says I'm going to be OK. I heard a voice that says 'You're going to be all right.'"

None of the men was hospitalized.


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