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Man Is Found Near Death in Griffith Park

Incoherent and injured, he says he had been in the brush four days since a biking accident.

January 03, 2003|Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writer

An injured man who may have been stranded in the rugged brushland of 4,100-acre Griffith Park for four days was hospitalized in critical condition Thursday after passersby heard his faint cries for help.

Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department, said the man, who has not been identified, was found in a small clearing on the north side of Mt. Lee, across a ridge and a few hundred yards from the Hollywood sign.

"He was semiconscious, incoherent, unable to give us his name," Humphrey said. "But he told us he had been there for four days, and we have no reason to doubt what he said."

The man, who is about 40, indicated that he had fallen while riding a mountain bike on one of the park's dirt fire roads, but no bicycle or helmet was found. The man had no identification, and does not appear to match any missing-persons reports filed recently.

Humphrey said days-old bruises, clotted blood and evidence that the man had soiled himself repeatedly lend credence to his assertion that he had spent four days on the steep, brush-covered hillside.

"However long he was out there, it was too long," he said. "I don't think he could have lasted much longer."

The man was helicoptered to County-USC Medical Center, where he was being treated for possible brain injuries and multiple abrasions and lacerations, including a deep gash on his forehead. Humphrey said the man's knees were severely cut and swollen, possibly from crawling some distance.

Shortly before 9 a.m. Thursday, the Fire Department began receiving 911 calls from hikers and other park visitors saying they heard a man calling for help.

Despite the deployment of 45 personnel on the ground and two helicopters, a search was unsuccessful until one firefighter, who clambered up a hill with binoculars, spotted the man in a small clearing.

"With all that brush, if he hadn't been in that clearing, we might not have found him," Humphrey said.

A paramedic, lowered by cable from a helicopter, treated the man before a basket was lowered to lift him to safety.

Adelaida De La Cerda, a spokeswoman for the medical center, said the man had given a last name and a date of birth, but neither had been verified and no relatives had been found.

De La Cerda said his condition was critical but stable. She said an electronic scan was being performed to determine whether his brain was injured, and he was being treated for hypothermia, dehydration and a variety of cuts and bruises.

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