By Mary O’KEEFE
Montrose Search and Rescue team members are assisting other search and rescue teams near San Diego for a missing desert hiker.
Guillermo Pino, 24, has been missing since Sunday at about noon. He and his family were exploring the caves in an area called Arroyo Tapiado, two miles from the mouth of a wash.
Pino is described as a “fairly experienced” hiker, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
The search began Sunday at 6:30 p.m. It resumed Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. and continued until dark. The terrain in the Arroyo Tapiado area is extremely rugged with loose dirt and steep terrain. It is described as having many ravines, washes and mud caves in the area that has been dubbed as “Badlands.”
Over 50 searchers are taking part in the search including San Diego Sheriff’s Search and Rescue with two dogs, Borrego Sheriff’s Substation, Red Cross and BORSTAR (Border Patrol Search, Trauma Rescue Unit), San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, San Diego Mountain Rescue, Sycuan Fire Department, as well as Montrose Search and Rescue.
MSR members left at 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The team is trained in mine rescue, one of the few rescue teams in California that has that type of training. The team was approached many years ago by representatives from the Office of Emergency Services who said there was a shortage of mine rescue teams in the state, said MSR member John McKently in an earlier interview with CV Weekly.
MSR decided to the take the training and has continued with follow up training.
“The caves are formed by water, so the walls will be smooth and I understand there is water in them [normally],” said Mike Leum before leaving for the San Diego caves.
The rainy weather will make the search in the caves difficult.
Recently Montrose Search and Rescue held a recruitment night when they explained what the team does including their training requirements.
“It was great to have a number of people turn out,” said Dr. John Rodarte, member of MSR team. “We have a tight knit community, it is good to see so many [who] want to help.”
Team members are volunteers who get paid $1 a year. They respond to rescues in local areas, like Angeles National Forest, and outside the area like Wednesday’s trip to San Diego.
Members are trained through the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy and train throughout the year in everything from rappelling out of a helicopter to climbing a wall of ice.
“I don’t want people to be deterred by the initial amount of training time,” Rodarte said. “[MSR] is a life-changing thing to be a part of.”