A man and woman who vanished after heading out for a day hike in the San Gabriel Mountains over the weekend were found alive on Wednesday after a five-day search, rescuers said.
Eric Desplinter, 33, of Chino Hills, and Gabrielle Wallace, 31, of Rancho Cucamonga, were reported missing around 8 p.m. Saturday by friends with whom they were supposed to check in following an excursion in the Mount Baldy area, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.
They had last been seen leaving the Ice House Canyon trail, heading for Cucamonga Peak, around 10 a.m. Saturday.
There was no sure sign of the two until Wednesday evening, when a search team in Cucamonga Canyon found two sets of footprints and followed them. A helicopter that was summoned to fly over the area spotted two people, officials said.
The pair was airlifted out of the canyon one at a time, then taken to the Mount Baldy fire station to be reunited with their families, authorities said.
Paramedics would also evaluate both hikers to determine if they needed further treatment.
Their rescue was first confirmed by a tweet saying the two were found alive posted by the nonprofit West Valley Search and Rescue, which has been involved in the operation.
One member of the large search-and-rescue effort, Mike Leum with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, said in a tweet that “this is a miracle.”
Ultimately, the rescuers covered 30 square miles in their search, with Wednesday’s efforts focused on Cucamonga Peak, Kelly Camp and Cucamonga Canyon.
Earlier in the day, crews had said they were limiting their search to aerial units because of winds gusting at up to 40 mph. Five search teams comprised of three members each were deployed Wednesday, according to sheriff’s officials.
Authorities in San Bernardino County were assisted in the operation by crews from L.A., Riverside, Orange, Kern and San Diego counties, along with two K-9 teams.
A beanie, a trekking pole and instructions to use crampons were also recovered during the hunt, but officials weren’t certain the items belonged to the missing pair.
Authorities have described Desplinter as an experienced hiker and said he and Wallace had both gone on previous treks in different areas of Mount Baldy.
Great work by our teams, mutual aid partners, media and family members who helped make this happen. Glad you are safe! https://t.co/meJ7Ug9Odb
— Joe Bustamante 🇺🇸 (@SBCSDbustamante) April 11, 2019