Rescuers hoisted a group of 15 students and staff from Downey High School to safety after they became stranded on Mount Baldy, including two teens who became lost and spent the night on the mountain, officials said Tuesday.
About 51 students from the high school’s soccer and lacrosse teams, plus a teacher and two coaches, ventured out for a group hike on Mount Baldy starting around 9 a.m. Monday, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
After hiking the Devils Backbone and Ski Hut trails, they splintered into multiple groups. By evening, many of the students made it back to their vehicles and left, but the remaining hikers were unable to walk out of the area safely, according to a sheriff’s news release.
Around 7 p.m., they called first responders for help. Sheriff’s aviation crews flew out to the mountain and were able to successfully rescue 10 students and three adults out of the area.
However, deputies learned during the rescue that two hikers were missing, a 15-year-old girl and a 16-year-old boy, the release stated.
Crews began combing the mountain by ground and air, with volunteers remaining on scene overnight to search the area for the pair. The teens were located around 8:40 a.m. and airlifted to safety, the Sheriff’s Department said.
One of the teens on the trip said she was hurt while hiking and a friend stayed behind with her.
“All of a sudden, we tried to go up the mountain and we saw no one, and we kept going but we couldn’t find anyone,” 11th grader Andrea Jauragy said. “I’m just exhausted.”
Peter Lomeli, the father of a 9th grader, said he started to panic when his son didn’t return.
“Other hikers came down and said, ‘I saw six kids that were lost and I could see them from far away and they look like they were scared,’” Lomeli recalled.
The father then began hiking into the mountain, and about an hour later, he saw his son with the first group to be found.
“I was thanking God my son was safe, but I was praying for everybody up there and just looking at the moms crying,” he said. “I just felt a lot of compassion and wanted to help.”
No further details about the incident have been provided.