‘Mt. Baldy Miracle’: Details, Video Emerge in Rescue of Hikers Missing for Nearly 5 Days

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New details have been released about the circumstances in which a pair of missing hikers were found after their rescue Thursday night in what one search-and-rescue group dubbed the “Mt. Baldy Miracle.”

Eric Desplinter and Gabrielle Wallace appear in images released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department in April 10, 2019.
Eric Desplinter and Gabrielle Wallace appear in images released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in April 10, 2019.

Eric Desplinter, 33, of Chino Hills and Gabrielle Wallace, 31, of Rancho Cucamonga, were spotted around a small camp fire by an aerial crew searching Cucamonga Canyon, according to a news release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

They were trapped between two waterfalls, each about 20 to 25 feet high, sheriff’s officials said.

The helicopter was dispatched to that area after a ground unit began following two sets of footprints that were found in Cucamonga Canyon.

One by one, an air rescue crew helped lift the stranded hikers to safety as the chopper’s rotor blades and tail rotor narrowly avoided trees and rocks, which were just 10 feet away.

The Sheriff’s Department released dramatic footage of the pair being hoisted to safety before they were airlifted to Mount Baldy Fire Station.

At the station, paramedics performed a medical evaluation on the pair before they were reunited with loved ones.

Desplinter and Wallace were lost on the mountain for nearly five days by the time they were located, authorities said.

The two were reported missing on Saturday night after failing to check up with friends they were supposed to meet up with after hiking Mount Baldy.

Prior to Wednesday evening, the two had last been seen about 10 a.m. Saturday when they left on the Ice House Canyon trail toward Cucamonga Peak.

The nonprofit West Valley Search and Group called their rescue the “Mt. Baldy Miracle,” a sentiment that was echoed by others.

“This is a miracle,” tweeted Mike Leum with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after it was confirmed the missing hikers had been found. Leum was among those who took part in the multi-agency search and rescue effort.

Crews had combed the mountain for several days, covering some 30 square miles by air and foot during the intense search. Teams from Riverside, Orange, Kern and San Diego counties also aided in the effort, as did two K-9 units.

“Volunteers are a real blessing to our agencies, providing thousands of hours giving back to make our communities better and stronger,” Sheriff John McMahon said, according to the release. “This is a perfect example of their commitment.”

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