A man and his son who were lost in the hills above Eaton Canyon were rescued Christmas Eve morning after the young man surfaced and led Sheriff’s Search and Rescue volunteers to his father.
Darlene Baxter called the Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s station just before 10 p.m. Wednesday night and reported her ex-husband and adult son were due back from a hike a few hours earlier and she was concerned about their safety.
Lt. Mark Hershey told KHTS that Santa Clarita Valley Search and Rescue volunteers Ken Weissman and Scott Russon started checking cell phone pings and records to see if they could locate the hikers and realized that the men were somewhere near Altadena They joined searchers from Altadena and Crescenta Valley rescue squads and helped them search during the night.
Around 5:15 a.m., 20-year old David Baxter was able to get to a gas station, rolling his father’s pickup truck downhill for about 10 miles. Using the gas station phone, he called his mother, who called the Santa Clarita station. Despite being chilled to the bone, young Baxter was able to lead rescue workers up to the trail where he and his father had become disoriented.
“Apparently both the boy and his father have some sort of breathing problem,” Hershey said. “The son told his dad to rest and he’d hike out for help, but he was having trouble so he told the search and rescue guys he took a nap for about an hour.”
Hershey said that the young man was disoriented, because he had actually slept for 8 hours when he embarked on his drive. As the rescuers followed him back to the trail, the rotors of a helicopter assisting in the search woke his father, Shannon, 42, who connected with the volunteers and hiked to Inspiration Point, where he was rescued.
Both father and son were taken to an area hospital where they were treated for exposure.
Hershey said that search and rescue workers found that the men weren’t carrying water or any sort of food; which probably contributed to their exhaustion and disorientation.
“You need to be prepared when you go out in the woods,” Hershey said. “Leave enough time to get where you’re hiking and back; these hikers found out that it got dark sooner than they thought and they got lost.”
He added that cell phones very seldom get reception in the mountains, but that “pinging” the GPS units in most newer phones are an effective locating technique.