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Lost Hikers Rescued After Night on Mountain Ridge


Two Oxnard residents lost in the mountains above Point Mugu State Park were plucked from a cold and windy ridge early Saturday by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department helicopter rescue team.

Torrey Blake Willets, 24, and Greg Matthews, 28, were cold but unharmed after spending a chilly night in the Santa Monica Mountains, authorities said.

The pair parked near the Sycamore Canyon entrance to the state park about 1 p.m. Friday and were attempting a day hike to the Tri-Peaks area, said Deputy Scott Norris, who participated in the rescue operation.

Wearing light clothes and carrying a hand-held global positioning system, the men got disoriented in late afternoon fog, he said. As darkness approached, they used sticks and bushes to build a shelter.

"We don't know how the GPS [global positioning system] failed," Norris said. "It could have been the low-lying cloud system or the fog."

When the hikers didn't return, a friend called police. About 18 search-and-rescue personnel on foot, in all-terrain vehicles and in a helicopter converged on the area about 4:30 a.m. Saturday. A sheriff's helicopter flew over Boney Mountain about two hours later and saw someone shining a flashlight below.

Because it was too rocky to land, the helicopter hovered a few feet above the ridge and picked up the men.

"They were blinking up at us," Norris said. "They were very cold but very happy."

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