Three hikers missing in the Big Bear area for more than three days were found Tuesday by a San Bernardino County sheriff's helicopter, officials said.
Ryan Shankles and Miguel De La Torre of Oceanside and David Yoder of Carlsbad were found at 10:15 a.m. in the North Fork Meadows area close to the Mineshaft Campground, said Cindy Bachman, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman.
“They appear to be in good condition and were just reunited with their families,” Bachman said. “All three of them were on foot when the pilot and observer saw them and advised them to stay where they were.”
The chopper crew led ground search crews to the three men before they were brought back to the helicopter and flown to Heartbar Campground, where they were greeted by jubilant family members.
“All three were able to get out of the helicopter on their own,” Bachman said.
The men had set out on a hike Saturday morning on Fish Creek Trail to Mt. San Gorgonio. A friend reported them missing to a Big Bear sheriff’s station on Sunday morning. The man said the three had intended to reach the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio during a day hike, taking food and water.
A sheriff’s helicopter helped look for the men Sunday, but the search was suspended about 7 p.m. when it grew dark. The ground search continued in the area of Fish Creek Trail, with some people patrolling on horseback and others using search dogs, Bachman said.
After the men were found, a San Bernardino County sheriff’s official told KABC-TV that it appeared the three men were found by a helicopter at a high elevation.
The official said the men may have been suffering from a “mild” case of hypothermia, saying that temperatures in the area where they were found could have plunged to the high 20s, and that there had been some rain and snow.
“There was a lot of snow on the crevices, on the trailhead," an emotional Shankles told KABC-TV. "On the way back it was really bad, we couldn’t cross. It was so bad we were afraid of sliding down like 200 yards.”
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