SDMRT 2019-01 Cajon Mt.

SDMRT Operations Report 2019-01

Full Callout – Cajon Mt – Thomas Castiglia

January 26-27, 2019

SDMRT Responders:

Adam Kimmerly, Bill McNaul, Brian White, Brad Hernandez, Brett Stanley, Dylan Bodkin, Eitan Zur, John Hatala, Kyle Albertson, Ming Chaung, Patrick Carey, TJ Tisher, Tony Rolfe, Marshall Masser, Kristen Kuhn, Mark Kenny, Erin Rist, Pete Jenkins


Other responding organizations SDSAR

Short Summary:

  • Type of callout: full
  • In-county
  • Type of search: search becoming body recovery
  • Environment: rural land; ownership: Federal (county leased/managed)
  • Location
    • Last Known Point / Phone app alert GPS location
    • Point Last Seen/ Lunch Rock
    • Command Post 15805 El Monte Rd, Lakeside, El Monte Park
    • found at GPS location
  • Operational periods, if applicable
    • Earliest time of activity initial Call out Jan 26, 2019 1721 and Ending time (call out canceled at Jan 26, 2019 2132 , all SDMRT members were finished Jan 27, 2019 1025.)
  • Information about the subjects:
    • Number/names of subjects: 1 / Thomas Castiglia
    • Ages, Genders: 50 y/o, male
    • Level of fitness and experience: experienced hiker,
    • Mental status : unknown
    • Injuries: fatal trauma
    • How were they found: combination of two field teams converged on the last know point (LKP) supplied by family and performed a technical descent to the location
  • Any rescuers injured: none
  • Aircraft used: Team insertion and areal search by ASTREA Bell 206

Initial Briefing Details

50 year old 5’ 6” 160 lb Thomas Mark Castiglia had met with a hiking group at the Cajon Mt. trail head at 0830 January 26, 2019 intending to hike to lunch rock. Two hours into the hike Mr. Castiglia found himself falling behind the rest of the group and told them not to wait up for him. When the group had returned to the trail head around 1445 they realized that Mr. Castiglia was missing.

Mr. Castiglia was reported to be an experienced hiker with no major medical conditions.

A phone application (life360) sent out a message showing a gps location. Message was received by a family member (wife) and supplied to the Sheriff’s SAR.

Team 1 Details

Adam Kimmerly, Dylan Bodkin, and Patrick Carey were assigned to follow the social trail up to the LKP serving as a hasty team tasked to search the area of the GPS location that was provided. Search efforts were focused on finding a responsive subject, using verbal attraction and bright lights to search both sides of the ridge. In the vicinity of the LKP, some reflective material was spotted roughly 300-400 ft away. ASTREA flew over to investigate and saw nothing in the area.

Team 1 continued the search up the ridgeline and met up with Team 2, then resumed the search back down the ridgeline.

Team 2 Details (see attached maps)

1000 SDSAR Vance Breshears, Russ Machado, and David Grapilon, and SDMRT Bill McNaul were inserted by air to the top of Cajon Mt (southern plateau) to follow the social trail down to the LKP serving as a hasty team and focusing on a responsive subject.

2200 Team 2 met up with Team 1 at the 2400 ft level. The two teams discussed the fact that no responsive contact had been made. It was determined that both teams would descend together to the LKP and consider the possibility the subject was unresponsive near the reported LKP gps location.

2239 Teams arrive near the LKP at the 2000 ft level and determine that the LKP gps location was below and to the East in a steep drainage where direct access was only possible by technical descent. Adam Kimmerly was selected to down climb on belay into the drainage to investigate. At the same time Patrick Carey descended to a point that allowed a traverse into the lower drainage that was inaccessible to Adam. Together they determined that there was a body and that it fit the description of the search subject and he was deceased.

2400 After reporting status to command both teams decided that Team 1 would return to the Command Post while Team 2 would remain with the subject until dawn when recovery could safely begin.

2436 Team 2 descended to the 1800 ft. level to a point that provided better bivouac and closer access to the subject.

January 27, 2019

0645 Team 2 Packs up and traverses to the subject.

0700 Team 2 Reaches the subject and contacts Command for the status of air ship support for recovery and were informed that a flyover would take place prior to actual extraction. Following the flyover it was determined that the packaging materials would be dropped with the airship returning to El Monte CP to rig for a long line extraction of the subject.

0916 With packaging and recovery complete the team returned to the trail and descended to El Monte Rd for pick up.

1025 Arrive at Command

Other Team Details

Anticipating that the subject may have descended alone to the trailhead, canine and ground teams were deployed to search the region in the valley and along El Monte Rd below the El Capitan Reservoir Dam.

Team 9

Tony Rolf, Ming Chang, John Hatala, and SDSAR team member were assigned to be inserted at the landing zone on the south plateau of El Cajon Mt. to clear the trail down to Wildcat canyon trailhead. This team was partly inserted but ultimately flown back to command when subject was reported found.

Lessons learned/ suggestions for future operations:

Subject apparently had an app (life360) on his phone that allowed his wife to query the phone’s actual GPS location. Much better information could have been acquired with this app, if the query process could be repeated, etc. The subject’s phone had battery charge and good reception, when found with subject.