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NEWS | July 23, 2019

Cal Guard rescues missing hiker in Alpine County

By Crystal Housman California National Guard

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A 33-year old man was safe Monday afternoon after a California National Guard aircrew rescued him in Alpine County.

The man was reported missing after he failed to meet up with another hiker Friday near Lake Alpine.

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and four-person aircrew from the Cal Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility #3 in Mather were activated by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and took off at 8:30 Monday morning.

By 9:30 a.m., the crew had located the hiker down a ravine in a rugged and mountainous area of Stanislaus National Forest in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and hoisted him to safety.

The helicopter was flying low and slow over the treetops when the hiker spotted them, said U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Sandin, who served as the flight facility’s operations officer and was one of the pilots on the flight.

“We found him on a river bed and he was waving at us with some sticks and making it apparent that he needed to be hoisted and saved,” Sandin said.

The crew set up a hoist and lowered Staff Sgt. Greg Proell, flight paramedic, down from the helicopter about 140 ft. to the hiker. Proell then did a quick evaluation and helped the hiker onto a rescue seat for hoist up and into the helicopter.

“Once we located him, we went right into hoist mode and set up for that and right into business. We wanted to do it quickly and safely so we could get this guy out of there,” Sandin said.

Sandin and his crew flew the hiker to an incident command post set up in Bear Valley for a medical evaluation before returning to the area to pick up a pair of rescue personnel who were looking for the hiker on the ground.

The activation is the Cal Guard’s fifth search and rescue mission in support of local, state and federal agencies in 2019 and marks the Guard’s second save in California this year.