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Search for ex-teacher continues

Rescuers hope that the outdoorsman found shelter after getting lost Jan. 4 on a hike north of Green Valley Lake.

January 13, 2008|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

Rescuers continued to hold out hope Saturday that they would find a retired schoolteacher from North Hollywood who got lost on a hike during last weekend's heavy storms in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Dean Christy, 62, is an avid hiker and an experienced outdoorsman, said San Bernardino County sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller. "We are hopeful he was able to establish a shelter to get out of the weather and that he will be able to survive this," she said.

More than 150 volunteers and four helicopters searched Saturday. Volunteers on the ground have been looking for Christy since he first called 911 about 4:15 p.m. Jan. 4 from his cellphone, saying he had become disoriented during a two-hour hike north of the Green Valley Lake campground as fog rolled in.

The fog was being pushed by what the National Weather Service has called the strongest storm to hit Southern California in about three years. About 1 1/2 feet of snow fell at the resort level that weekend at Big Bear Lake, about eight miles east of Green Valley Lake.

The weather has been cold in the area over the last week. During the storm, lows were in the 20s, but they dropped to about 10 degrees Jan. 6 and Monday night in Big Bear Lake. Lows have been in the upper teens since Wednesday, with highs in the upper 40s and low 50s.

The retiree's last contact with 911 dispatchers came about 1 a.m. Jan. 5, when he told authorities he was looking for shelter. The search has continued around the clock, with some team members using night goggles.

Christy worked for years as a sixth-grade teacher in Glendale, Miller said. He had a second home in Green Valley Lake, but it was destroyed during the Slide fire in October. He had since bought a new house in the community. Christy is very familiar with the area, Miller said. In 1978-79, he directed and taught at the YMCA camp in nearby Little Green Valley.

Christy's wife and adult son and daughter have been monitoring the search at Green Valley Lake.

The outdoorsman was wearing a warm jacket, boots and a hat with ear flaps when he left on a solo afternoon hike. He did not take any food or water, Miller said.

Officials were able to get a rough idea of Christy's location through the global positioning device on his cellphone and are focusing on the north and northeast parts of the Green Valley Lake campground area.

Helicopters are searching within a 100-mile radius, Miller said. The terrain is heavily forested and rocky.

Sunny weather in recent days has helped rescuers sustain the search. As the snow melts, they hope to find markings that Christy may have left, such as a pile of sticks or rocks pointing to a shelter he may have found, Miller said.

Volunteers from Los Angeles, Ventura and Riverside counties, as well as from the San Francisco Bay Area, have assisted in the search. The National Ski Patrol dispatched rescuers from Northern and Southern California.

About 70 search-and-rescue volunteers are expected to continue the effort today.

--

ron.lin@latimes.com

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