A 14-year old boy managed to get cell phone reception and called 9-1-1 from an Azuza Canyon cliffside Sunday afternoon. This led to the deployment of the Sheriff’s San Dimas Search and Rescue Team, and Air-5 Rescue pilots & Emergency Services Detail (Special Enforcement Bureau) paramedic deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department flying in and rescuing a total of four boys, one at a time.
The rescue effort began at 3:40PM when one of the boys called 9-1-1 to report he and his friends were on a cliff and needed to be rescued.
Reserve deputies with the San Dimas Search and Rescue team quickly deployed to the area and, using binoculars, spotted the four boys on a mountainside north of Azusa near Garcia Canyon Trail, off of Highway 39, Azusa Canyon.
The four boys, all Azusa residents, were trapped on the mountainside. The steep terrain was made worse by the loose rocks that would cause them to fall if they tried to climb up or climb down. Also, if one boy were to fall, he could knock others off the cliff as well. This also kept ground rescuers from reaching them.
The ground rescuers called in Sheriff’s Air-5 Rescue who were quickly on scene. LASD ESD Paramedic Deputy Rickey Hernandez was lowered from the helicopter by a hoist as it hovered 300-500 feet above Azusa Canyon to rescue the boys. By 4:50PM the boys were safely inside the LASD Air-5 rescue helicopter.
“Those boys were really scared on that cliff. You could see the fear in their faces,” said Sheriff’s SEB Sergeant Tom Giandomenico, Crew Chief of the rescue. “Pilot Deputies Scott Osborne and Mark Burnett repeatedly positioned the aircraft into place, and one by one, we lowered Paramedic Deputy Hernandez down with the hoist and brought them one at a time into the aircraft.”
“Once they were safely in the aircraft, they were all smiles and thank you’s and started saying how much better the helicopter was than video games,” said Sergeant Giandomenico. “We later learned they had gone hiking and gotten lost between two mountain ridges. They were wearing shorts and t-shirts with no hiking equipment. They clearly were not prepared where they ended up.
The flight crew landed at a park in Azusa where they picked up by a mother of one of the boys. They were not injured.