Hiker, his dog reunited with LASD rescue team that saved their lives: 'They are like superheroes'

Eric Resendiz Image
Tuesday, August 30, 2022
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A hiker got to meet and thank the Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies who rescued him and his dog after they were stranded in the San Gabriel Mountains.

EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A hiker on Friday got to meet and thank the Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies who rescued him and his dog after they were stranded in the San Gabriel Mountains.

"I would say they are like superheroes. They came in really swiftly and were in complete control of what they were doing," said Dave Santonil, who was with his pup when he became stranded on a dangerous side of a mountain near the Mount Wilson trail.

Earlier this month, Santonil was hiking with his pup Buba. The dog was not on a leash and jumped off the trail, landing on a steep side of the mountain. Santonil went after Buba and ended up nearly 100 feet down off the trail, needing to be rescued. They were on loose soil that was falling apart.

"Probably should have had him on a leash. It was really irresponsible of me not to have him on a leash," said Santonil.

Thirty minutes after Santonil called 911 for help, deputies arrived in a chopper to rescue the San Gabriel Valley resident and his dog.

"Having to put the aircraft so close to the cliff face and the trees, it just required help from the entire crew," said Deputy Richard Thomsen.

The sheriff's department said this operation was one of their most difficult rescues.

"I believe it was an excess of 175-foot hoist. We needed to get close to that mountain face. So it took a great deal of team effort and pilot precision," said Deputy Gonzalo Galvan.

The rescue crew was a team of five deputies. The crew said Santonil was very close to falling 300 feet from where they were stranded. But a deputy hoisted Santonil and Buba just in time.

"This guy's life was in danger and we were able to save him, thank God. It is a satisfying experience for all us," said Deputy Seth Belville.

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