SDMRT 2019-12 Angeles Forest Mutual Aid

SDMRT 2019-12 Eugene Jo Mutual Aid (5 SDMRT operational periods)


SDMRT Responders:

  • Bill McNaul: 6/24/19, 6/26/19
  • Will Pisarello: 6/25/19, 6/29/19
  • Rob Bair: 6/26/19
  • Marshall Masser: 6/27/19, 6/28/19
  • Steve Herman: 6/27/19
  • Frank Ortega: 6/29/19


  • Dennis Peck 6/23/19
  • Hugo Bermudez 6/23/19-6/28/19
  • Mark Kenny 6/29/19

Other responding organizations:

  • SAR and Mountain Rescue from Malibu, San Dimas, Santa Clarita, Sierra Madre, Altadena, Antelope Valley, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, Inyo, Ventura, Marin, Fresno, Contra Costa, Orange Counties.
  • Los Angeles Search Dogs
  • Daily searchers: 50-75
  • Operation run by Montrose SAR & members of Sierra Madre Mountain Rescue

Short Summary:

  • Type of callout: Type 1 & 2 searchers only.
  • Mutual Aid, Los Angeles County
  • Type of search: Search
  • Environment: Mountainous terrain (4000ft-8000ft), Angeles National Forest
  • Location (All WGS84)
    • Last Known Point / Point Last Seen : Photographed having lunch at 34.3375, -117.9518. Based on interviews, most likely PLS at 34.3395, -117.9599
    • Command Post :
      • 6/23/19-6/27/19: Newcombs Ranch 34.3297, -118.0018
      • 6/28/19-6/29/19: Cal Trans Maintenance Station 34.3166, -118.0086
    • Found : Devils Canyon Drainage 34.3091, -117.9805
  • Operational periods, if applicable
    • Initial mutual aid call out: 6/23/19 1733 for a briefing at the CP 6/24/19 0700.
    • Operational period nomenclature used by CP:
      • Periods 1 – 3: 6/23/19 1500 – 6/25/19 0700 (SDMRT not present)
      • Period 4: 6/25/19
      • Period 5: 6/26/19
      • Period 6: 6/27/19
      • Period 7: 6/28/19
      • Period 8: 6/29/19
  • Information about the subjects:
    • Eugene Jo
    • 73yo Male
    • Experienced Hiker
  • Found by Altadena Mountain Rescue Team on assignment. Dehydrated but uninjured.
  • Air resources: LASD Air Rescue 5 (Super Puma), LA County Fire Air Operations.


The subject went hiking with a group he did not know well in an unfamiliar area on the morning of 6/23/19. The Three Points Triple Divide trail towards Mt Waterman in the Angeles National Forest.

The group hiked approximately 3 miles and stopped for lunch. The subject was with the group for lunch. The group then began hiking back and the subject lagged behind. He was most likely separated around 34.3395, -117.9599.

The group called for assistance from the trail head, and initial SAR deployments were made that afternoon at 1500.

Initial assignments focused on the trail & areas around the LKP & PLS. Locating the exact area where the subject had lunch on 6/23 took a number of days. Later assignments focused on the drainages in the area.

Teams encountered steep areas necessitating technical rope access, nearly impenetrable brush, water obstacles, poison oak, and generally terrible terrain. Based on the subjects location, so did he.

Subject was located by an Altadena MRT team on the edge of the assignment areas on 6/29/19. He had moved a significant distance from the PLS, believing no one was looking for him. He was dehydrated but otherwise uninjured. Unfortunately, the drainage he was following only lead further into the wilderness. He stated he had been drinking from the stream, which was still flowing due to the high snow this year.

Lessons learned / suggestions for future operations:

  • Helicopter extraction is never guaranteed, even when specified in your assignment briefing. Always be prepared for a hike out.
  • Illegal marijuana fields were stumbled on by search teams in the area. Be careful.
  • The search made extensive use of for assignments, plotting of GPS tracks, clues and other information. This could be shared with teams via a 2d scannable barcode which linked to the operational information (if internet was available).
    • This information suite was forwarded to SDMRT’s search management team to evaluate the use of SarTopo for our own operations.