SDMRT 2018-02 Lakeside, CA

SDMRT 2018-02 Lakeside, CA

10 February 2018

SDMRT Responders: Bill McNaul, Richard Yocum (Planning Section Chief), Jesse Ma, Brian White, Kyle Albertson, Dylan Bodkin, Roland Sosa, Brett Stanley, Rob Bair, and Kristin Kuhn

SDMRT ITC: Hugo Bermudez

Other responding organizations: SDMRT plus SDSDSAR (approximately 38 SAR personnel), SDSAR UAV unit, ASTREA, and local law enforcement

Short Summary:

  • Type of callout: Full
  • In-county San Diego
  • Type of search: Search for missing hiker, possibly suicidal
  • Location: CP at San Diego County pumping station, 13115 Willow Road, SD, CA 92040 (USNG 11SNS0847937362)
  • Earliest time of activity: Initial callout at 1214, 10-22 at 1842, final debrief and departure from CP approx. 2000
  • Operational periods: 1
  • Information about the subject:
    • Number/names of subjects: 1 subject, Laura Diane Scinto
    • Age: 70 years
    • Level of fitness and preparedness: Good fitness, preparedness unknown but suspected not prepared
    • Mental status: Family believes subject has manifested some depression lately, and might be suicidal
    • Injuries, if applicable: None known
    • How were they found: Located by ASTREA FLIR as part of overall search operation
  • Any rescuers injured: None known
  • Aircraft used: ASTREA and SDSDSAR UAV drone

Descriptive Report

Missing subject is a 70-year-old Caucasian woman, 5’6” 130 lbs, blue eyes, brown hair, retired purchasing agent. Husband reported she was last seen going to bed at midnight and found her missing at 0545 the next morning. He reported her car, driver’s license, and spare key missing, but purse and cell phone left at home. At approximately 0630 a local deputy investigated a suspicious empty vehicle parked along Willow Road facing west, and traced it to the family at 9427 Deanly Road

in Lakeside, and husband had reported her missing.

Although initial report was that she was not a hiker, the family interview disclosed that she walked the neighborhood daily, and had no difficulty hiking up to 6 miles in Cuyamaca State Park, but slowly with a “shuffle.” The family felt she was depressed recently following her retirement with little to do, and possibly suicidal, but without suicidal attempts or expressed ideation. She has known hypertension and Fuch’s corneal dystrophy, history of throat cancer, gum bleeding, and no other known medical problems, but tends to “self-diagnose” (syphilis, with rape 20 years ago) and avoid doctor visits. The family described her as being “out of sorts” lately and suspected early memory loss.

A total of 18 teams were deployed on this search, including 3 K9 deployments, ASTREA, and a UAV drone. The first team was dispatched to home to interview the family. The second team was deployed to the subject’s vehicle, the LKP (USNG 11SNS1026037087) but found no usable prints, clues, or direction of travel. The 3rd team was a trailing dog team sent to the LKP with a scent article (subject’s pajamas) but could not detect a matching scent even when the dog entered the vehicle. The car was able to start. A flashlight was missing from the center console according to the husband.

The valley was segmented east and west of the LKP for ½ mile, and north and south of the river, bounded by Willow Rd on the north and El Monte Rd on the south. Ground teams searched these 4 areas, with additional, separate ground teams sent to search (1) the perimeter of the reservoir, (2) Louis Stelzer park, and (3) Team 2 diverted to hike from the LKP up to the park. Meanwhile separate motorized teams were deployed to search (1) Willow Rd; (2) El Monte Rd; (3) Cactus Park and the neighborhoods north of Lake Jennings Park Rd; (4) Lake Jennings Park campground, the neighborhood south of Lake Jennings, and the subject’s neighborhood; and (5) Lindo Lake and surrounding streets. An area dog team was deployed east of the LKP keeping north of Willow Rd. ASTREA covered a large area, including all the way east to El Capitan Reservoir, including the water at the east end of the reservoir. No clues were found.

A team re-interviewed the family and obtained a second scent article, which the trailing dog team was able to use when they returned to the LKP. The dog pulled hard along Willow Rd east, then turned south, then west parallel to the river, and then south, where the trail was lost and could not be regained.

A decision was made to not continue the search after dark, but resume early the next morning. While strategy preplanning for the next ops period, and considering the directions of travel reported by the trailing dog team and the direction to the subject’s home, ASTREA was requested to cover the area from El Monte Rd up to the Lake Jennings Park campground. Now after dark, ASTREA detected a heat source in a bush (32 51 52.11 x -116 53 24.26). While two motorized teams were diverted to their location, ASTREA lowered a deputy with NVGs who followed the laser spot from ASTREA to the location on the ground. The heat source remained motionless until the ground personnel got close, and then appeared to begin to “slide” down the hill. The subject was located alert, fully oriented, lucid, knew exactly where she was and how she had travelled there, and was ambulatory, but reluctant to return home. She reported parking her car at 0343 and intending to “stay out there until, I guess, ’til I die.” She was reunited with her family and taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Lessons learned/ suggestions for future operations:

Initial planning and ops began well before MC5 arrived, and it was hours before maps could be printed. But emphasis was placed on rapid team deployment, including hand-drawn maps.

While the first scent article was not useful, the second scent article provided the only information on the direction of travel and was instrumental in the planning that led to locating the subject.