A sheriff’s helicopter hoisted four stranded hikers to safety early Sunday in Malibu Creek State Park (map), more than eight hours into a high-risk rescue operation that was hampered by rain and poor visibility, authorities said.
One of the hikers had called the Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station about 6:30 p.m. Saturday to say the uninjured foursome were trapped near the park’s creek and the water was rising, according to a statement issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The hikers were described as 25 to 26 years old, all from Long Beach.
The ensuing rescue operation was comprised of more than 30 personnel from the Malibu Search and Rescue Team, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the Ventura and L.A. County sheriff’s departments.
Rescue helicopters were initially unable to get close to the creek due to weather conditions, authorities said. The body of water was “rising with each intermittent rainfall,” and the four people were trapped by a high wall.
Rescuers set out on foot to the “very dark” location, with only their helmet lights and flashlights available to illuminate the area, according to the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Progress was also slowed by slipperiness of the ground.
As the hikers’ cell phone battery was dying, they texted rescuers to save battery power.
Temperatures in the Malibu Creek Gorge dipped to the mid-40s, raising concerns that the foursome might be at risk for hypothermia.
At 2:15 a.m., L.A. County sheriff’s Capt. Mike Parker tweeted that a helicopter had spotted the hikers about 200 yards from rescuers on the ground. Subsequent tweets showed a Ventura County sheriff’s helicopter landing with the hikers onboard, after which they were examined by medics.
At the end of their ordeal, they were cited by state park rangers for unsafe recreation activities, Parker said.