The volunteers of the Los Angeles Search and Rescue team had planned to take a break from their usual work routine. Instead of tracking down a lost hiker or camper, they had decided to spend Saturday morning cleaning up the fire roads and hiking trails in the Santa Monica Mountains north of Tarzana.
But just as the volunteers set out on the cleanup with shovels, rakes and plastic trash bags, a report came over their portable radios: A bicyclist had just fallen into a ditch from one of the trails that they were supposed to clean up and needed to be rescued.
"Everyone came for the cleanup," said volunteer rescuer Antonio Arizo. "It just happened that somebody fell off his bicycle."
Once 28-year-old Bob Sack of Encino had been evacuated on a Fire Department helicopter--he was listed in good condition with a broken leg at Northridge Hospital Medical Center--the rescuers got back to the first business of the day, cleaning the mountain roads of old washing machines, parts of abandoned cars and other trash.
About 30 people from Search and Rescue teams and a mountain bikers association volunteered for the cleanup, which was organized by the Police Department. Officer Craig Morgan said the usually deserted trails and roads, off the unpaved portion of Mulholland Drive above Encino Reservoir, have become popular dumping sites for contractors, gardeners and others who want to surreptitiously dispose of garbage.